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Nattering about bat boxes

October 31, 2008
The final push for Make A Difference Weeks, and we were to spend 2 days on Brownsea Island – dodging the hordes of visitors all looking for a glimpse of the Autumnwatch two, Bill and Kate.  We hadn’t the heart to tell them that they had already gone home for the weekend! 
A Red squirrel watched over us

A Red squirrel watched over us

Read on to find just what we were up to…..If you go back to one of the recent blogs you will see know that we have a great working relationship with Barclays Bank, and have done for quite good few years now.  This year they asked if they could provide us with something that would enable us to monitor how well ‘their’ bits of cleared slopes were doing.  A quick chat with the wardens on the island, coupled with a coincidental offer of a batch of bat boxes at cut price, provided the solution.  So, here we were, on the Island, with the first batch of 12 boxes to go up.

I had a surprise in store for the team as well.  While we had the ladders out, it seemed the ideal time to check and clear a few of the other boxes that had already been sited around the Villa.  I rather hoped that the cold weather might have put paid to any hornets that might be lurking! 

Sure enough, no hornets surprised us as we cleared out a few snails (what possesses a snail to even consider crawling 20 feet up a tree?!!), some bird droppings (easier to understand) and some old spiders webs (see the snail comment!).  One box in particular though, held a pleasant surprise…

I opened the front, and looked in, to be confronted by some brown, furry creatures looking back at me!  A small colony of Natterer’s bats were at home, and were surprisingly active considering the time of year.  One of the bats was further down in the box than the others, so I took it down the ladder for a closer look – to ensure it was ok, and not suffering from any injuries.   I should mention here that all bats are protected, and I am licenced to carry out this work by Natural England – so please don’t go off and try this at home!

A Natterer's Bat from Brownsea

A Natterers bat from Brownsea

All seemed to be ok with the little fella, though, so he was put back in the box, to join the others.  Before he went though, he was determined to show us his wings, and spread them both out so we could admire him -show off!
Just look at my wings!

Just look at my wings!

We also found a few soprano pips in some of the other boxes, but before long it was time for lunch – and a well earned cup of tea at the villa.  I’m not sure how we would survive without tea!
The afternoon was spent putting the new boxes up, where Barclays had cleared the slopes a few years back.  The boxes are made of woodcrete, a mix of wood shavings and concrete, so are not light things to carry up a ladder!  The ladder is not light either – so we made good use of the Brownsea landrover!
Our chariot - complete with ladder on the roof

Our chariot - complete with ladder on the roof

The boxes were put up using heavy guage wire wrapped around the trunks, rather than using nails which would damage the trees.  It was quite task then, to clamber up the ladder with wire and bat box in hand, and then attach it to the chosen tree! The first few were relatively low down….
One of the boxes finds a new home

One of the boxes finds a new home

As we found our feet, so to speak, we decided to place some a bit higher – with the aim of attracting Noctule bats to use them.  They seem to like higher boxes, with a relatively clear access.
This one is a bit higher...

This one is a bit higher...

The pictures don’t really show it – but the second lots of boxes were set at about 20 -25 feet up.
We will have to wait now, to see if the bats agree that the boxes are in the right place.  We’ll check them again next summer.  Fingers crossed until then!!! 
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2008 4:08 pm

    Great natterer pics (loved the one of it’s wings outstretched) and it’s always good seeing Amanda doing a bit of work (especially up a tree). Sounds like you had a good day. Well done on the MADD events. Hard work but worth it I’m sure. You need a holiday now! Jane

  2. November 13, 2008 9:44 pm

    Hi Jane,

    It was obviously a bit of a poser of a bat – and just sat with wings outstretched. It was difficult getting pic of Amanda up the tree – she doesn’t hang around up there! Yes, the MADD events were hard work at the time, but very rewarding. I think I have a day off in the week after next!!
    Cheers

    Steve

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