Bird Watching in Deepest West Sussex From David Cole
Date: 2013-06-13 10:10:00 | Category: Twootz News
| Author: David Cole
Bats are very much a mixed blessing – conservation organizations wax lyrical over the joys of these mystical little creatures – but I doubt if the enthusiasm would be as vocal if the bearded, sandaled ones had a roost in their own domestic roofs.
The little beasts enthusiastically urinate and defecate throughout many lofts creating a strong stench, and little drowned bodies can sometimes be found in your domestic water tanks – and that is where the water that you use to clean your teeth usually comes from! Tightly covering the tanks is almost impossible as bats (our own are Pipestrelles - Pipistrellus pipistrellus) can squeeze through the tiniest gaps. Luckily our own roost is confined to the cavity walls in the extension to the north side of our house.
The winter hibernation ends in April, and they then appear at dusk in ones and twos – flitting in the dim light just a few meters above the ground seeking insects. Now it is June, and the year is reaching mid-term with the longest day only a week or so away – they leave the roost while the sun is still above the yard-arm so we are treated to fine views of the steady progress from roost to feeding areas where they take moths, gnats and other small insects – many thousands we are told in a single night. With a small whisky in hand and sitting on a bench in the garden my wife and I counted over three hundred leave our roost two summers ago.
Scientists (ever interfering) have now – since 1999 - decreed that there are in fact two species of Pipistrelles – the ‘common’ and the ‘soprano’ separate only by a higher pitch echolocation call - 45kHz and 55kHz. Perhaps like humans there are just populations a little shriller in some locations……I wonder if there was a grant funding that bit of research.
Not thought to be threatened regarding population, Pipistrelles enjoy far greater protection than elderly pensioners, and it is an offense to interfere with them in any way – you even, I am told, have to have a license to pick one up if you find a youngster on the ground near the roost in late June/July.
Guilty M’Lord ! Last year I found one below the roost site and placed it on the old stone walling of the house from where it made steady progress upwards and back to the roost, being too young to fly. Expensive surveys must be undertaken before building work is permitted if bats are thought to be in residence.