Bat Buddies

Will you be my Bat Buddy?

I am a bat and I need your help. There are several ways you can with “Bat Buddies” at Thames Chase.

Firstly get to know us. Come on our bat walks based at the Thames Chase Visitor Centre, Pike Lane. You’ll hear the calls bats make and see them displayed on an iPad. There are five or six different species around Thames Chase. For instance I am a Noctule, the biggest bat around. I fly high and fast. And I shout. The Brown Long-eared bat sounds very different. They whisper as they pick insects off the vegetation. We have the microphone to pick this up. And you may see Common Pipistrelles as they emerge from their roost at the Centre.

Interested? We can train you up to detect and identify bats for yourself. Then you will be able to help us “Bat Buddies” find out more about what bats need in our locality. Bats are under threat from destruction of their habitat through trees being cut down, building practice especially conversions and by the removal of hedgerows which are flight ways for bats. After a little practice with us at surveying we may be able to loan you a bat detector to work on your own and report back.

To compensate for this loss of habitat we have set up a ninety bat box scheme at Broadfields and Bonnetts Wood. Bats roost in holes in trees and crevices in buildings. A variety of these provide the living conditions they need the year round.  For instance,in the autumn our buddy, the Noctule, calls out from his hole for female companions to come and join him. A desirable residence improves his chances. It needs to have good insulation because in winter they need to keep cool as they hibernate. It’s all about saving energy. In spring the mothers need a hole on the sunny side to cluster in and keep warm. And it needs to be moist because bats dehydrate in hot weather. To provide milk for their babies they leave them in a creche and go out nights to feed on insects. That may mean flying some distance. This can be dangerous, from the weather and from predators.

This is why helping us maintain our bat boxes at Thames Chase as suitable accommodation is something you can do. It requires clearing a way to the bat box, working off a ladder to clean it out and hopefully recover some bats. The reward may be in your learning how a bat is held in the hand and checked for species, sex, weight and size. We plan to provide this opportunity for you on six days in the spring and three in the autumn. Coming on the work party may encourage those of you with suitable gardens and with bats definitely around to put up you own bat box. We could help.

Think about becoming a “Bat Buddy” at Thames Chase. You’ll be helping secure the future for bats.

“Bat Buddies” is supported by the Community Action Fund which is part of the Land of the Fanns Partnership Scheme.

Events coming up soon are:

  • 7th April, 10am-2pm – Volunteer recruitment day at Thames Chase Forest Centre
  • 13th April 9am – Bat Box Check, at Parklands – To join team contact Peter West
  • 16th & 17th April, 10am-12:30pm – Bat themed Easter Holiday Activities at Thames Chase Forest Centre
  • 20th April, 11am-12:30pm – A talk by Ella Barnett of the Essex Bat Group with captive bats to see, at Thames Chase Forest centre
  • 25th April, 7:45pm – 9:30pm – Evening Bat walk (ages 12+), at Thames Chase Forest Centre

For more information contact Aisling Woodhead: aisling.woodhead@thameschase.org.uk
Or Peter West: peterwest501@btinternet.com , 01708 630385

Thames Chase Trust, Pike Lane
Upminster, Essex RM14 3NS

01708 642970
landofthefanns@thameschase.org.uk

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