The first of the annual NBMP Hibernation Checks in three Burrington Combe caves took place this weekend, organised by Pete Banfield.
Nick Tomlinson said “We had a great day in Burrington Combe today, with a total of 34 lesser horseshoe, 14 greater horseshoe and 2 Natterer’s, across three sites, not a bad haul, and some brilliant caving as well. A huge thanks to Amber, Claire, Jon, Josh, Katie, Mel, Michelle and Pete (who organised it) could not have done it without you!”
Amber Avery also said “Thanks to Pete Banfield and friends for organising the Hibernation Checks of Burrington Combe caves today! Everyone really enjoyed it! We had lots of Greater & Lesser Horseshoes and two Natterers (One of which was active and flying).”
We checked 20 bat boxes at Comeytrowe Park and Longrun Meadow in Taunton this morning.
They were put up last September and there were no signs of bats at the May check. But today we found a male Common Pipistrelle in a box at Longrun.
Despite damp weather there was a huge turnout for Dave’s Walk at the Bishops Palace in Wells on Tuesday. The annual walk for the Somerset Wildlife Trust is always well attended but this year the estimates range from 80 to 100 adults, with at least half as many children again.
Fortunately, with both sets of the “northern” bat detectors, and Ed and Helen bringing their “southern” set, we had well over 30 Bat detectors out. A new record for us. The Bats put on a good show as always, with a highlight of a Pip and Serotine circling in the Rec. causing a cacophony of sound as all the detectors triggered in turn. It was loud, and raised “ohs” and “ahs” from the audience.
The Holnicote estate has large and varied roosting and feeding opportunities for a wide range of bat species. Over the last couple of years I have started a monitoring programme, hoping to gain a better understanding of how bat species are using the estate, and how our management can be beneficial for bats and their wider habitats.
I am hoping to expand this monitoring project, and the main thing we need additional volunteers for is walking a series of transect routes, monitoring for bat activity. Along with conducting emergence counts at some of our maternity roosts.
Here is a bit more background from Basil about the main monitoring project:
“We walk transects on three or four nights of the year (June-Sep). I hope to send the dates out next week. These four nights are the main commitment, however it isn’t necessary to attend every one. On each night there are 6 transects being walked simultaneously. These are in varied locations across the estate, and aim to give us an idea about which species of bat are present and how they use the habitats. Each transect is walked by a pair, and is about 2 km long (each way), taking about an hour and a half.
We use bat detectors in connection with a recording device, allowing the results to be analysed at a later date. However I do encourage people to make notes and observations while they are about. Full training and equipment will be provided, although I imagine your members already have a good idea about Bat ecology etc.
There are also opportunities to assist with maternity roost monitoring, however we don’t need as many people for this.”
“I appreciate that we are in the far west of Somerset, and this project may not be local to many of your group. However if it is achievable for some of the group to get to us, we would love to have them. We would also be able to offer some fuel expenses to those travelling to us.”
I’m planning on conducting a couple of (very!) late cave checks this Tuesday 12th March, unless our ‘cave guardians’ have to cancel. Any paid-up members are welcome to come along BUT you must have been caving before, and you must have your own equipment – so decent wellies (I recommend cheapo Mole Valley 12 quid jobs, really good grip), a proper helmet (not a hard hat!) and a decent headtorch. Oh and some overalls/cave suit/waterproofs – some are a bit wet and one is an old ochre mine so you also need gloves otherwise everything you touch will end up orange.
These are proper caves so I can’t help you if you are claustrophobic. I say all this because people have turned up with no torch, some ancient Hunter wellies with no grip, and then revealed they don’t like small spaces! Having said all that, the caves aren’t really horrible, just have a few smaller bits and are really good fun. Starting 10am in Axbridge, maybe going to Priddy, Wells and Oakhill to give you some idea of what we’ll be doing. You will be need to be a little bit fit too…
Let me know and sorry for the late notice but most of these caves are not open access and so are not easy to arrange well in advance. There will be a limit to how many we can take in but I’m not expecting hordes of people midweek. Hopefully the weather will be rubbish and there’ll still be some bats in there!