OF THE BERKS BUCKS AND OXON WILDLIFE TRUST

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GETTING TOGETHER -

Chris Da­mant of Bern­wood En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion Ser­vices gave a fas­ci­nat­ing talk on bats. The main fo­cus was on colonies of rare Bech­stein’s bats, which were recorded in Bucks for the first time only in 2010 at Clive­den.

Since then, var­i­ous other colonies have been lo­cated, and sur­veys con­ducted to dis­cover num­bers, habi­tat re­quired and their be­hav­iour and roost­ing habits. Ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion about th­ese bats is im­por­tant as they are a UK Bio­di­ver­sity Ac­tion Plan pri­or­ity species.

Bech­stein’s bats weigh about 10g as adults and feed mainly on moths, flies, grubs and spi­ders. Us­ing echo-lo­ca­tion they ex­pertly nav­i­gate through broad-leaved wood­land to hunt. Un­like some other species, only fe­males and ju­ve­niles make up colonies; once ma­ture, males dis­perse and lead more soli­tary lives.

Sur­veys took place mainly in woods in Bern­wood For­est, North Bucks un­der the aegis of the Na­tional Bat Trust.

Harp traps (bags on a frame) were the usual way of trap­ping bats so that they could be counted and some fit­ted with minia­ture trans­mit­ters so that they could be tracked. Sur­vey­ors played record­ings of Bech­stein calls to lure bats in, and great care was taken so that no bat was harmed.

From th­ese sur­veys, a num­ber of bat roosts were iden­ti­fied and in­ves­ti­gated.

One ma­jor find­ing from this was that wood­pecker holes, mainly in old oak trees are cru­cial as roost­ing sites, and so de­struc­tion of long-es­tab­lished wood­lands could be dis­as­trous for them.

The bats also seem to be af­fected badly by light pol­lu­tion, for ex­am­ple where a sports field or large in­cin­er­a­tor are very brightly lit.

The pro­posed route of the HS2 train could also af­fect them badly as it would cut through routes they fly along and the ter­ri­to­ries they use.

Chris en­hanced his in­for­ma­tive talk with record­ings of bat calls and footage from videos of night-time an­i­mal ac­tiv­ity which in­cluded foxes, ot­ters and pole­cats as well as bats.

Our next meet­ing is on Tues­day, Novem­ber 18 when Sarah Wright will talk on Box Wood – Hid­den her­itage of the Chilterns

Venue: Great Mis­senden Memo­rial Hall,Link Road, Great Mis­senden, HP16 9AE Start time: 7.45pm You will be very wel­come to join us. For more de­tails go to What’s On at www. bbowt.org.uk

GITA SZWER

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