Bat Walk, May 20th 2017This event was a late addition to the calendar. A group of 16 participants arrived at the Park at 8.45 p.m. to enjoy a bat walk around the Park, to be led by Ella, from The Essex Bat Group. The weather was bright and dry, though it was a bit windy. As Ella explained, windy conditions are not ideal for bat detecting, as the insects on which they feed need to seek shelter. Before the walk started, Ella showed us some rescued bats. These bats were too damaged to release back into the wild but never-the-less they were very much alive, and she handled one of them so we could all see it up close and personal. If you were to enlarge a picture of its mouth 100 times, you would have been looking at something very, very scary, but life-size, it was extremely cute!
Ella distributed some Bat Detectors amongst the group. We set off, walking around the perimeter of the Park anti-clockwise. At first the bat detectors all remained completely silent.... As we rounded the far corner of the East (left hand) field, heading down towards the old oak tree, we had glimpses of bats in flight - and the detectors burst into life! It was, by then, about 30 minutes after sunset, which Ella said is usually about 'first emergence' time. We stopped there for quite a while, fascinated by the aerial antics of these tiny mammals.
We left the old oak tree via the path by the side of the brook, then doubled-back on ourselves onto the other side of the brook, heading towards the lake and the bridge by the oak tree. Absolutely zilch there. But as we went round the bend just past the oak tree, pandemonium broke out, and for a length of about 50 metres, there were bats both seen and detected flying everywhere. The detectors can pick up different species of bats depending on the echo frequencies they emit. Ella said that the vast majority of them were common pipistrelles, but she thought that one was a rarer brown long eared bat. We continued on round the lake, but cut back towards the pavilion along the grass-cut path between the two halves of the wooded hills, but didn't find anything else.
Our Chair, Nikki, reports that she has had plenty of positive feedback on the event, and we are currently looking to see whether it is possible to repeat it later in the year.
For further information bats, bat conservation, and related topics, please see the Essex Bat Group website.