RARE BATS AT RESERVE
‘Huge boost’ for charity at Gwaith Powdr on 20th anniversary:
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.”
● A Lesser Horseshoe bat clutches her young at Gwaith Powdwr nature reserve, which overlooks the Dwyryd Estuary