Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ampthill Park - bat walk

Having spent dawn in the Park, it was good to be there for dusk, too. Bob Cornes, Bedfordshire's Bat Recorder, led a small group of people around the Park in search of bats. We set off along the southern belt of woodland just before 9pm and were soon rewarded with good views of Common Pipistrelles, including 2 flying closely together for a short while. Further along the path the bat detectors were clicking at 55Hz rather than 45Hz, revealing the presence of several Soprano Pipistrelles. These look almost exactly the same as the Common Pips in the hand, and were only separated as a species in 1999, initially by their sonar frequency. Common Pips can be found just about anywhere but Soprano Pips are more choosy, and tend to be found where there is both trees & water, which makes the Park a good site. Where they do occur they can be abundant. We had great views of the Pipistrelles against the sky as they performed their dramatic manoeuvres.

In the Darkenings - and in the dark, now - we picked up a number of calling grasshoppers & crickets at the 30Hz frequency, before coming across several Natterer's Bats - the Bat Conservation Trust website describes the sound of this species on the detectors as being like a piece of cellophane being crumpled!

We were disappointed not to pick up any Noctule Bats here, and even more so to find The Rezzy devoid of the hoped-for Daubenton's Bats that can often be seen whizzing just above the surface of the water on a good evening. But it was great to be out on a beautiful summer's evening, and even the younger children - whose little legs must have been very tired by the end of the walk - went home excited and are probably dreaming pleasant bat dreams as I write!

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