We tried something different on Friday night and signed up for a Bat Walk at St Aidan's. The weather during the day was dreadful, pretty much constant heavy rain and still drizzling into the evening. Not at St Aidan's thankfully, we left the rain behind in Morley.
Arriving a bit early because we thought we might get stuck in motorway traffic we took a quick walk down to the lake and watched the Sand Martins flying over the water for a bit. We looked for the Little Owls on the dragline but didn't see any, lots of rabbits though We did see a Kestrel on there after a noisy Blackbird drew attention to it whilst we were going over the paperwork for the evening.
The walk was headed up by Gavin, who is the community engagement office for St Aidan's, two volunteers Sue and Robin also joined us. I think there was around 15 of us in the end?
Bat detectors in hand we headed back in the direction of the lake, the paths were covered in slugs and snails and i'm afraid by the end of the evening a few didn't survive, I did try to dodge them! We stopped at the Sand Martin wall to look a little closer at them going in and out of the holes. I think I might have to get my daughter a pair of waders after she agreed to come back in winter to fill the holes back up!!
Lot's of Gulls had been flying into the reserve, apparently they come from miles around to roost, lots of Herring and some Lesser Black-backed. A pair of Egrets flew in too - Great Whites! A nice lifer to get, i've always managed to miss them before.
On with the walk, which took us through a little wooded area where we learnt about the invasive Himalayan Balsam plant, which although good for bees and insects strangles all the other flora, which is not so good.
By the river we picked up the odd click here and there on the detectors, my daughter picked up a Soprano Pipistrelle. We picked up the pace a little so we could get to a good spot for the bats at the right time.
It was by the waters edge and we stood around with our detectors tuned to various frequencies so we could pick up the expected bats. The detectors came with a paper showing all the UK bats and the frequency that you can hear them at.
There are four bats recorded on the reserve -
Noctule - frequency - 20-25
Pipistrelle - 45
Daubenton's - 45
Soprano Pipistrelle - 55
So we waited...and waited, of course you can't always predict wildlife so a little patience was required but it paid off when everyone's detectors started clicking and we saw some of the bats flying overhead and out over the water or down the path. It was really cool to hear the clicking get louder as the bats got closer, they are so quick! Gavin had a detector that showed what bats we were seeing and tracked their path too (fancy bat detector has gone on the shopping list!!) so we could confirm that we had all 4 bats! This was a first as I think the Daubenton's have only been recorded at the other side of the reserve before?
It was well worth the waiting and I think everyone was pretty happy, I know we were. My daughter, who was quite nervous of the evening thinking it would be like going through the bat house at Chester Zoo, which she hates, was really excited and already wants to go on the next one later in the year.
Thanks again to Gavin, who made the evening entertaining and enjoyable and to Robin and Sue.