A Batty Evening at Attenborough Nature Reserve

Two weekends ago I was invited to attend a Bat Walk at Attenborough Nature Reserve. It was organised and led by Lynn, my manager at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust; and Angelena, Attenborough‘s Trainee Conservation Ranger. The walk brought together Attenborough Wildlife Watch group‘s families with the regular conservation volunteers and we set off with a very large band of bat enthusiasts 🙂

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An introduction in using bat detectors from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

Lynn introduced the group into the world of bat detecting and Angelena told us more about the species found on site. We were very excited to learn that Nottinghamshire Bat Group were trapping at Attenborough Nature Reserve that evening! As part of a new Heritage Lottery funded project to map Nottingham’s bat species, the group were looking for the Nathusius’ Pipistrelle which is rare across Great Britain but have been recorded before at Attenborough previously.

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Nottinghamshire Bat Group were trapping and recording Nathusius’ Pipistrelles at Attenborough Nature Reserve.

We walked around the site for a while looking out for bats and trying to tune in our bat detectors to the differing frequencies of Noctules, Pipistrelles and DaubentonsNoctule Bats are one of the largest UK bat species and have the lowest frequency call of these more common bats; peaking around 25kHz. They are apparently are often the earliest to venture out of an evening. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to pick up any obvious calls from the Noctules but it wasn’t long before we were listening to the social and hunting calls of Common Pipistrelles at 45kHz.

As we made our way round the site we came across some members of Nottinghamshire Bat Group who showed us one of the traps that they were using to try and catch Nathusuis’ Pipistrelle bats. The traps are called harp traps and basically consist of a large metal frame with fishing line ‘strings’, a two layered trough at the bottom and an electronic lure (in this case replicating the sound of a Nathusius’ Pipistrelle social call). The idea is that traps are placed in clearings between trees so that bats are attracted by the lure and funneled towards the harp. They hit the strings, fall into the trough between the two layers of plastic sheeting and are unable to climb out. The traps are checked regularly and bats captured are quickly processed before being released. Processing involves measuring fore-arm length, weighing and collecting hair and fecal samples. The Nathusius’ Pipistrelles also had a small numbered metal ring clipped loosely over their forearm to identify any recaptures. The bats are kept warm with water bottles inside the group member’s jackets.

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A male Nathusius’ Pipistrelle trapped and recorded at Attenborough Nature Reserve. You can see the small metal identification clip on the right hand wing of the bat.

Luckily for us, the Bat Group had sucessfully caught 3 Nathusius’ Pipistrelles as well as some Common and Soprano species. We were able to see some of the bats being processed up close and ask questions about the project.

Notts TV were filming on the walk and have released a short news video containing interviews with some of the Nottinghamshire Bat Group members, including Angelena who was helping lead the event. You can find it on demand here.

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Notts TV were filming a short news clip about the quest for the rare Nathusius’ Pipistrelle at Attenborough Nature Reserve. Huge camera, tiny bat!

As we left, the bat group were yet to find any female Nathusius’ Pipistrelles which they had hoped would be present along with the males at Attenborough Nature Reserve and could indicate a mating or maternity roosting population!

What an interesting and exciting evening! I’m always surprised at how small the UK bat species actually are – they can look a lot bigger silhouetted against the moonlight! I have been thinking about joining my local bat group for a while and now that I have a car there’s no more excuses about not being able to get to the remote sites. If you find these strange flying mammals as interesting as I do, why not have a look and see if your local bat group is running an event soon? Also (as I mentioned in my previous post; 30 Days Wild – Day Five) do think about joining the Bat Conservation Trust who oversee most of the local bat groups and work hard to conserve our wonderful UK bat species. Dafydd is proudly displaying our member’s car sticker in the rear windscreen!

All images subject to copyright. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the view of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for whom I volunteer, or any other organisation.

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