Saturday, 18 August 2018

Na na na na na na na na BAT WALK!

Hi everyone! I know it's been a while and I'm still supposed to be on "maternity" from my blog, but I've been missing it and I've been to a few events recently that I really wanted to share. 

The first event I want to talk about is a Bat Walk that I participated in on Wednesday the 15th of August at Bold Venture Park in Darwen, Lancashire. 

Each summer I plan out as many things as I can for Mini Nerdling and me to do, in my search I saw an advertisement for a Bat Walk and initially wrote it down on my plan as something for us both to do. As the time got closer, I decided that I fancied doing it by myself so I could leave the kids with Nerdish Dad - You can tell I haven't blogged for a month, I'm rambling so bear with me. 

Anyhoo, the day of the walk came and on and off it had been absolutely pouring down with rain. A few people had asked on the event page whether it was still going ahead or not and I was watching the sky, I even googled if bats can fly in the rain! (They can but prefer not to as it gets their fur wet and it makes them cold and it's harder to fly, in case you were interested). The confirmation came through that it was good to go, so I set off early as they'd advised there would be minimal places. I'm glad I did, as there was between 40 and 50 people who came, a couple of them had even travelled all the way from Chorley to come and take part. There were children there, which was nice to see. The people running the event were surprised at the turn out considering the weather. 

Once we'd all gathered, the bat expert and owner of an amazing moustache, Paul Robinson of South Lancashire Bat Group, started off with a talk about bats and gave us some basic information. There are 18 species of  bats in the UK, but these are all from just two families. He reassured us that all UK bats only eat insects and none of them were vampire bats (though vampire bats only feed off cattle and the like as humans are too twitchy haha!) It was really fascinating, learning things like bats have to drop to fly, they can't just take off from the ground. I'd never really considered anything like that. Paul did promise us that he'd try and name all 18 species of bat, I know he got to 13, so I'm still waiting on the final 5. 

It had rained on and off till this point, so we were warned, that we may very well not see much due to the weather, but we moved up under the trees, closer to the large pond/lake. While under the trees, Paul told us about the kinds of roosts that bats prefer and how bats sometimes (rarely) end up in your house by accident, usually if it's their first time out the roost and they can't remember which entrance it is to get back in. He also told us that bats actually don't cause any damage to your home as they don't chew. I always thought they were a "nuisance". 

One of my favourite things I learnt was about a lone, male, Greater Mouse-Eared Bat that hibernates down south every year. When doing the count, bat conservationists have to go out and just count him. Apparently he's at least 25 years old and they're not entirely sure where in Europe he flies in from, just that he's right on the edge of his range. Such a brilliant tale! 

Onto the bats!!! We saw absolutely loads. It was amazing watching them dart about, right above our heads and it was unbelievable just how fast they move. I was surprised to learn that bats actually have quite good eyesight, they just don't use it! Using echo location though, they can "see" a stick and the leaf that's on that tree and then the teeny tiny bug that's on that leaf! The Bat Team (that's what I'm calling them) took out some detectors and we could listen to the bats at work. I really enjoyed listening and trying to separate out the two different types of "click" that were happening as there were two different kinds of bats flying around us. Above us were Pipistrelle bats, which are the most common type of bat and then above the water was what I think were Brandt's bats...though I didn't hear clearly, so if I'm wrong, please let me know in the comments if you were there, or just know more about bats than me. 

We went to two further spots following the first to see more bats and we were so lucky that even with the weather, there were so many out and so active. Overall this was an absolutely excellent event and all for the price of a small donation (whatever you could donate) to bat preservation on arrival. I'm really hoping more events are put on like this locally in the future. 

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