Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bat Walk at St Ives, Bingley - Saturday 8th September

We had a great evening walk around St Ives estate looking – and listening – for bats.

We met at 7pm and joined up with the Friends of St Ives group, squeezing into the new visitor centre. Bat expert Ian Butterfield told us some amazing bat facts and explained how bats can be identified by their calls, and how we can tell what they are doing by the sounds they make. The bats calls are so high-pitched that people can’t normally hear them. The best way to find bats is with a bat detector, which converts the bats’ calls into sounds that people can hear. So Ian told us what to look and listen out for, and we all piled outside to go looking for bats.

The weather was perfect – the sun had been shining for most of the day and that meant we had a warm and still evening. First, we went searching along the tree-lined paths behind the golf course (see the map of St Ives here). It wasn’t until reached White Cote Barn that our bat detectors started to crackle.  Somewhere above was a bat… Then out of the blue, we saw our first bat – a Pipistelle! At least two of these small bats flew right over our heads along the path. We really needed the bat detectors to keep track of them – they’re so fast – and even then we could hardly keep track.

We walked down towards Coppice Pond, finding more Pipistelles on the way. It was quite dark by now, but not too dark for one Airedale Otter to find this spider running across the road almost under our feet. Someone’s been eating all their carrots!

Spider, St Ives, Bingley - 8th September 2012

It didn’t take long to find more bats hunting for insects over the pond. These were Daubenton’s bats, and they sounded slightly different to the Pipistelles we’d heard earlier. Using our bat detectors we could hear them as they approached, then we could shine our torches on them as they flew low over the water.

 Bat-watching at Coppice Pond, St Ives, Bingley - 8th September 2012

Standing on the little jetty watching bats over Coppice Pond was an atmospheric and enjoyable end to a great evening. Thank you to everyone who came along. You can read more about the Pipistrelle, Daubenton’s and other bats, and even listen to their calls, by clicking on this link.

One of our members brought a dragonfly to show us to the bat walk. She had found it on holiday in Stirling, Scotland, over the summer.

 Common Hawker Dragonfly

We think it’s a Common Hawker dragonfly. If there are any dragonfly experts out there who may be able to tell us a bit more, please get in touch!

Thank you for bring it to the meeting. If any of you have found anything interesting (such as insects, feathers, leaves, spraints, anything!), or have taken any nature photos you'd like to share with the group, then please bring them to the next meeting.

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