Report of Bat Walk Friday 26th August 2016
We met at Jubilee Gardens at 8pm. The weather was kind to us, warm, calm and really quite pleasant. About 16 people took part.
Dusk and bat activity was expected at 8.30 so Rick gave a talk on bats, their lifestyle and biology, his background in bat conservation over twenty years (mostly in South Yorkshire), ten years of professional surveys for Bats, Barn Owls etc involved in proposed development sites (nationwide) and a brief mention of his survey efforts to date around Barwick, finishing with some guidance on what to do if you think you have bats.
Part way through this talk Rick’s backing group started up (otherwise known as the Leeds Festival) but wasn’t too loud. Despite a few recce visits over the last few weeks when 2-3 Common Pipistrelle bats were unfailing in their activities at the back of Jubilee Gardens, they chose this evening to be elsewhere although one did deign to put in some brief passing visits. This is the nightmare scenario for anyone doing wildlife walks, these are wild animals and do have an awkward streak when it comes to pleasing themselves. David Attenborough never has this problem ..apparently!
Despite the lack of bats everyone seemed to have a good time.
Some common Q & A’s about bats that might help readers.
How do I know if I have bats in my house?
The most common roosting locations for bats are behind fascias particularly where there are small gaps behind soffits, in flat roof voids via small gaps behind fascias, under hanging tiles. In summer these are most likely to be on the sunny side of the house and gables the most common locations. Summer roosts involving breeding females only are usually present from May to August and roosts in houses are nearly always abandoned by early September.
The actual roost sites used by bats are generally outside the habitable part of the house and rarely found inside the loft although droppings may sometimes be found in the loft where the roost is near the apex. One or two species do fly within loft spaces in barns and large old houses etc but almost never in modern dwellings.
In most cases householders only suspect bats are present because they find droppings and think they have an infestation of mice. Bat droppings look similar to mouse droppings but are always found in patches below the entrance point, either on the face of the wall, on window ledges or the floor at the base of the wall, on bins etc.
Do bats cause any damage ?
Bat do not make nests like birds and do not carry food into roosts for babies, they simply use the roosts for shelter. They donâ€™t chew timber of electricity cables like rodents and in general cause no problems at all. In many cases bat can be present without the householder being aware of them. Droppings build-up can sometimes be a temporary problem but theyu generally dry to a fine powder and blow away. Problems with droppings can be dealt with using the bat helpline see below.
Are bats protected ?
Yes. Because bats occupy buildings so much, the protection for bats is probably wider than for most other protected species. It is an offence to :-
- Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
- Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
- Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)
- Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
- Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost What happens if I want to carry out repairs to my property and I think bats might be roosting ?In cases where planning consent is involved, planners will normally ask for a professional survey to be carried out prior to granting consent and it is likely that a licence will be required from Natural England. If bats are found during the course of building, work should stop in that area and advice sought.Further information can be obtained from:-West Yorkshire Bat Group www.westyorkshirebats.org.uk Seek advice as soon as possible. Usually with plenty of time most problems can be solved with common sense advice. The Bat Conservation Trust (www.bats.org.uk) runs a National Helpline (0345 1300 228). They will arrange for a local volunteer to visit and suggest how to overcome any problems. This will be followed by written advice from the Trust.
Finally if anyone has any information about possible roosts in the Barwick area Rick would like to hear from you and if you want any further information or have a bat related problem he will be happy to try and help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be good to know if readers find this kind of information interesting or useful? Would you like to see more information on wildlife topics in Barwick? Please let us know – see the contact details on the Home page, or just talk to any of the group when you see us!