A great turnout for our guided Bat walk on July 16th, young and old lending their ears to the cause for an order of mammals that are heard more often than seen (in the UK anyway). An introduction to Bat echolocation and sound was provided, and the group were able to listen to the types of call that their detectors would hopefully be emitting come dusk. There are 17 species of Bats breeding in the UK, and around 10 have been recorded in the area, although a good few of these are scarce and locally distributed- but they are out there!
Setting off around 9.15, the group paused to survey the marshes. A Barn Owl passed through for perhaps its maiden hunt of the evening, and the first Bat, a Noctule, was briefly heard on detectors. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling loudly, a new species for some in the party. Heading round to the broad, the group set up camp at the bench and along short dyke. It wasn’t long until another Noctule was picked up, frustratingly difficult to spot in the sky despite its Swift-like size. This individual entertained us for the duration of the walk, making feeding passes and buzzes just overhead, unperturbed by the assembled admirers. Both Soprano and Common Pipistrelle were heard, and more on the walk back, but by now it was too dark to make out our smallest Bats. With dusk just a memory, attention turned to the broad and short dyke, as a Daubenton’s Bat had arrived to hawk for insects over the water. Sparingly by torchlight, the remaining members were able to watch the Bat hunt. This was to be our 4th and final species of the evening, and a real contrast between this, the woodland edge Pips and the up-high Noctule, all finely-tuned to hunt in different airspaces.
Huge thanks to Lindsey from the Norwich and Norfolk Bat Group, not just for lending detectors out but for her knowledge and company too! The walk was over-subscribed, and it quickly became apparent that booking was essential rather than just advised. We will organise another walk for next year at a different location, and yes, booking will be essential!
The Norwich and Norfolk Bat group can be contacted here: https://www.norwichbatgroup.co.uk/
and the Bat Conservation Trust here: https://www.bats.org.uk/