OF THE BERKS BUCKS AND OXON WILDLIFE TRUST
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