Going Batty in the Woodland!
Anyone walking in our woods last Saturday night might have thought that filming was going on, of a macabre outdoor operating theatre; serious people with protective clothing and rubber gloves stood around, headlamps glowing, lighting up the tiny specimens which they passed between them, under the gaze of a group of awestruck bystanders. The experts handled their fragile captives efficiently and kindly, measuring dimensions, recording sex and physical attributes, and attatching minute identification tags. At first the only remarks to be heard were 'look at that nipple!' or 'this is a big one' and the shrill squeaks and, in one case, screams of the feistier specimens, snapping and showing their sharp teeth and idiosyncratic ears. This dramatic scenario was explained clearly and entertainingly by David Lee, whose tremendous enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject kept his audience rapt and amused for a good couple of hours. 67 bats from our batboxes had been processed, comprising Bechsteins (with many breeding females),Pipistrelles, and, a first for us here, one large Noctule, who screeched and grumbled throughout, before shuffling grumpily back up his tree and then gracefully winging away.
A wonderful evening's walk and talk, evidence of the dedication of a very special group of people belonging to the Herefordshire Mammal Group.
Unfortunately heavy rain at 10pm meant that the Harp traps had to be taken down, so we don't know what else we might have discovered - but we plan to hold more such evening walks next year.