Bats. Love them or hate them, they’re all around us. In fact, you probably don’t even know when they’re about! Large ones can look like a bird at dusk, and smaller species can look like moths in the back garden.
Tristan has taken a liking to wanting to learn about bats. This interest began when we were watching videos on YouTube about echolocation.
At the start of August, we attended a biodiversity summer school nearby and Tristan wanted to build a bat house. Unfortunately, they only had the bird boxes that we’d built last year. Instead of building another box, we left the building to others who hadn’t yet made one and the children learned about bugs and we went for a little family walk to the pond.
Then…International Bat Night was announced! We promptly marked it on the calendar so we wouldn’t miss it. The evening came two weeks ago and we headed out.
The event took place in a wooded area a few miles away. The first job of the evening was for everyone to dig in (literrally). An area was dug out, similar to a small pool, with a few deeper holes as well. This was to plant a fragrant bat garden containing many beautiful plants and flowers that would attract the insects that bats like to dine on. Digging was surprisingly difficult due to the 2 to 3 inches of grass and thick roots that had to be cut through before the lower, sodden earth could be wedged out.
After the bat garden was planted and was looking gorgeous and inviting, the next task was for the double-chambered bat house to be assembled. These came as a kit that we simply had to assemble with a hammer and screwdriver. The back wall was ridged so that it could act as a ladder for the bats to crawl up. This was Kallista’s favourite part of the evening (and mine, too).
By this time the sun was getting low in the sky so it was time to put away the hammers and take out the bat detectors. These were little hand held devices, we tuned into the 50 frequency and listened to the receiver. We wandered around in groups listening and watching, waiting to hear or see a bat. We finally did see one flying back and forth over a field between the trees.
We moved back into the trees near the garden we’d helped to plant and waited…and then we heard the sound of a bat! There it was! Swooping over Phil’s head! In fact, there were soon two bats having a feast. I know that it was a full buffet for the bats that night as I’d been eaten alive by the midges, I was miserable with bites and am still healing. The bats that we saw were the common pipistrelle.
Here in Northern Ireland there are 8 species of bats, one less than in the Republic of Ireland.
- Common pipistrelle
- Soprano pipistrelle
- Nathusius’ pipistrelle
- Leisler’s bat
- Brown long-eared bat
- Whiskered bat
- Natterer’s bat
- Daubenton’s bat
We were able to bring our bat house home with us and we’re looking forward to putting it up. It must go up 5 meters on a tree so we’ll wait until the leaves fall from the desired tree before attempting to hang our newest nature accommodation. I wonder if we’ll have any new tenants in our box next summer?
Do you have bats in your garden? How do you identify them? Do you have any tips to share with us?