RARE BATS AT RE­SERVE

‘Huge boost’ for char­ity at Gwaith Powdr on 20th an­niver­sary:

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

AN open day was held at a for­mer ex­plo­sives fac­tory on Satur­day to mark the 20th an­niver­sary since it was turned into a na­ture re­serve.

It was in 1998 that North Wales Wildlife Trust cre­ated the Gwaith Powdwr re­serve in Pen­rhyn­deu­draeth, near Porth­madog, and this sum­mer the char­ity fi­nally achieved one of its most cher­ished goals.

In July vol­un­teer bat ecol­o­gist Pat War­ing con­firmed the pres­ence of a ma­ter­nity roost for the rare Lesser Horse­shoe, one of Bri­tain’s rarest bats.

At least four fe­males with young were us­ing a ren­o­vated build­ing at the re­serve – one of seven build­ings at the site.

Re­serves of­fi­cer Rob Booth said the dis­cov­ery of a Lesser Horse­shoe nurs­ery was a huge boost for the char­ity and its vol­un­teers.

“It’s prob­a­bly no co­in­ci­dence that it’s been a fan­tas­tic sum­mer,” he said.

“The fe­males do like it con­sis­tently over 30C, and they ‘creche’ their young when they go out to feed.

“It is pos­si­ble th­ese bats were dis­turbed from an­other lo­cal roost – we have suf­fered some van­dal­ism here re­cently our­selves.

“How­ever there’s a good chance they will now re­turn year af­ter year to help swell the wider pop­u­la­tion.”

Once the big­gest ex­plo­sives fac­tory in Europe, the site was known lo­cally as Cooke’s and con­tained seven dis­used build­ings as well as a tun­nel.

All were des­ig­nated for their Lesser Horse­shoe bat roosts as they pro­vided the right con­di­tions for hi­ber­na­tion and night roost­ing – but not for breed­ing.

To over­come this, a for­mer ex­plo­sives stor­age shed was reroofed in 2015. Hot boxes, a roof void, hang­ing points and ded­i­cated ac­cess fea­tures were added in­side.

Rob said it had been worth the wait. “Bats are no­to­ri­ously fickle crea­tures and all the ex­perts told me I had to be pa­tient!” he said.

“Brown long-eared bats started us­ing it as a ma­ter­nity roost two years ago but I didn’t dare hope this year was the one for our tar­get species.”

Pic­tures: Pat War­ing

● A Lesser Horse­shoe bat clutches her young at Gwaith Powdwr na­ture re­serve, which over­looks the Dwyryd Es­tu­ary

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