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Bats

The Friends of Alexandra Park organise at least two Bat Walks each year. These are led by Gordon Hutchinson, who brings along several bat detectors for people to use.


We have invested in one bat detector of our own, bought with money from members’ subscriptions. This is available for members to borrow - email AllyparkN10@gmail.com

Dates of our next Bat Walks can be found under What's On, and full details will appear on our Home page nearer the time.







Notes on previous Bat Walks and Talks:

Autumn Bat Walk

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Another fully booked Bat walk were told
 stories of Vampires and Giant Fruit Bats. 

We usually keep a look out for Britain's largest bat - the Noctule. This bat usually flies quite high and is not often seen at the lake. So we were especially pleased to see one make an early appearance. It flew over the lake for 5 to 10 minutes.


A little later the Soprano and Common Pipistrelles were out and flying just over our heads.

We had great views and heard a lot via the bat detectors.......  

Spring Bat Walk 2017

Good news! After noticing a reduction in the number of bats seen over the last few bat walks, it is a pleasure to report that this time they were out in their droves.

Our usual good crowd of about 25 people listened to Gordon's talk on our only flying mammals before jumping at the opportunity to use the "Bat Detectors".

Gordon was helped out on this occasion by Theo who is giving us some of his time to help towards his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The enthusiastic participants were entranced with the Pipestrelles flitting around their heads.

Back next Autumn....


Talk: Introduction to Bats

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Lisa Worledge of the Bat Conservation Trust gave us an entertaining talk on Bats covering many aspects of their psychology with examples of the thousands of bat species around the world.

She then concentrated on our own native species with lots information on the species that we are most likely to encounter including the pipestrelles. She encouraged the audience to make bat noises......

The small size of our bats (easily fitting in palm of a hand) when compared to the 2 metre wingspan of the largest bats in the world is quite an eye opener.

For anyone who want to pursue bats further, please join The London Bat Group only £7.50 at www.londonbats.org.uk

Bat Walk, September 2016

Due to some slight over booking and great enthusiasm from our members and the general public, there was a recorder number of people on our Bat Walk, but there still enough Bat Detectors.

The Pipistrelles were out as usual and it is always gratifying to hear the expressions of (mostly) pleasure when they scoot about our heads...

was one endorsement from Social Media.


Bat Walk, April 2016

Dry weather, but a cold wind was not the ideal weather for our Spring Bat Walk. A good number of people still braved the elements and finding a sheltered area our bat detectors came into their own.

Bats were heard and bats were seen very clearly against the bright sky.

Picture of a well wrapped up participant with their Bat Detector. (Picture courtesy Lesley Ramm)


Bat Walk, September 2015
The usual good number of people and two well-behaved dogs gathered for our twice yearly Bat Walk. Gordon had led a walk for the Elfins the night before and promised a good fluttering of bats.

We heard about Vampire Bats, but none have been reported locally....

We heard about Giant Fruit Bats, but none have been reported locally....

So armed with our "Bat Detectors" we set off and from the off the clicks and buzzes of the Pipistrelles were heard.

They swooped over our heads and in probably greater numbers than for past few years.

Gordon also pointed out a new sound, a social call to listen out for. It just sounded like a click of interference until it kept being repeatedly heard. Great to learn something new.




Bat Walk, Apr
il 2015
We met for the Bat Walk by the Lake and Gordon gave us an explanation of the anatomy of bats. They have all their fingers with most of them extremely stretched to provide a base for the wing.

There were plenty of gnats about so we were happily anticipating of a good showing of pipistrelles.

We heard how th
e bats would sound on the detectors then came the moment to listen out for them. They didn't disappoint... The sky was still quite light when the first flying mice skimmed past our heads and another good display was enjoyed by all.

Indeed it was ag
ain a fully booked, successful walk.



B
at Walk, September 2014

Another successful Bat Walk was held in September, 2014. Gordon gave us a briefing on the habits and folklore of bats with guides to the various species and size comparisons before the light completely disappeared (pic). A licensed Bat Handler was in attendance who added to the interest by confirming that we have both Common and Soprano Pipistrelle bats in The Park - they echo locate at different frequencies. Also she picked up the trace of another bat to be identified.....



Bat Walk,  April 2014

A bat walk, led as usual by Gordon Hutchinson, took place on April 9th, with 34 people booked and 34 turning up on the night, about 10 of whom were youngsters. 

Clouds of flies hanging in the air above us as the light faded suggested there would be plenty for the bats to eat, and indeed the bats duly appeared among the trees next to the boating lake and over the lake. 

There have been occasions in the past when we have seen large numbers (30+?), but this time I would say there were maybe 10, common pipistrelles as far as I could tell.  We always keep an eye (and ear) open for daubentons over the boating lake but did not spot any.   

Temperature seems to be a significant factor in how many bats we see - it was probably around 10 degrees.  We have seen the larger numbers when it has been warmer. The presence of the Drive-In cinema operating nearby did not seem to be a problem – there was no noise or light pollution affecting the boating lake area.

As always, the opportunity to learn a little bit about bats and to see the bats flitting close by, proves very rewarding for the people who come on the walk.



Bat Walk,  September 2013

After a talk, including dismissing some myths about bats (they are not blind, they do not fly into your hair...), we had a possible early sighting of a noctule bat flying overhead with some house martins all intent on reducing the number of insects which we could see above our heads. Gordon showed us how to use the 'Bat Detectors' – great fun for kids to use.
 
The pipistrelle bats came out as usual and thrilled the watchers by zooming by the edge of the lake and just over our heads. We moved around the edge of the lake and several people thought that they might have heard (using the bat detectors) daubenton bats as well, which flit along the surface of the water.



Bat Walk,  April 2013

The weather was a bit wild with high winds and rains in the afternoon not boding well for our bats, but towards sunset the sun came out and the wind died down a little.

Gordon gave a talk about the bats that we might see and those that we wouldn’t! (We sadly wouldn’t see vampire bats or giant fruit bats.)

The sell-out crowd were attentive, but growing a little cold as temperatures seemed to drop unreasonably. After being shown how to use the “Bat Detectors” we started scanning for these furry flutterers. Unfortunately we didn’t pick up any noctule bats on this occasion (our largest native bat), but pipistrelles and probably soprano pipistrelles gave some great swooping displays close to all. One person also thought that they might have seen a daubenton bat skimming across the water. Due to the slightly less than ideal weather, we didn’t see the huge numbers of bats that sometimes turn up, but everyone saw and heard the bats.

Another successful evening with another new member joining our fold. Our next bat walk will be in the Autumn.

Bat Walk, August 2012

About thirty people met up for our fully booked Bat Walk on Wednesday, 22nd August.

Gordon Hutchinson gave an informative talk on bats in general and the bats that we might expect to see around the boating lake. He reassured the listeners that although vampire bats are real they normally only feed on cattle and only in South America. He also explained their life cycle and feeding techniques as well as dispelling some of the many myths about these little furry flying mammals.

We were then introduced to the bat detectors which render the bats’ hypersonic location and feeding sounds audible to the human ear. It was interesting hearing that large fruit bats in Australia can be seen hanging in the trees making lots of noise. As dusk fell we listened out for Britain’s largest bat, the noctule, but they didn’t initially make an appearance. We wandered further around to start to listen out for some pipistrelles. Here we were in good luck as the normal horde of these tiny bats flitted above our heads and over the water giving everybody a good glimpse of them. Sometimes they flew quickly and with great agility and other times they seemed to just fly like slow-flying moths. Also some lucky listeners picked out the noctule bats flying overhead.
 

Bat Walk, May 2012

A score of people waiting for the bat walk looked anxiously at a dark sky hoping the rain would stay in the clouds.

Gordon Hutchinson started to give a description of the life of bats in general, and British bats in particular, as spots started to pepper the lake. He gave an interesting explanation of some of the myths about bats. Are they blind? Do they suck blood?

The rain started to pummel down. Listening out for noctule bats which usually overfly early in the dusk proved disappointing as they seemed to dislike the downpour. We were told how the bat detectors work to pick out the ultrasonic squeaks of the bats, and luckily the rain started to ease.

So, poking our heads out we desperately moved our detectors around hoping to catch the sound of a brave bat. We were in luck, pipestrelle bats had decided to come out and play. Standing by the side of lake we could see the bats passing backwards and forwards over our heads. They were not very visible against the trees, but they gave a great display when passing by the sky.

It is strange that we don’t notice them more often, but with the detectors you know where to look. So after a very worrying rainy start it was great to see Alexandra Park’s bats munching on the insects over the lake.

Bat Walk, September 2011
Twenty-one people assembled by the boating pond, and saw many
pipistrelles.
At this time of year the bats are busy feeding to build up their fat reserves to keep them going during their hibernation through the winter.  Lots of "buzzes" were heard on the bat detectors, which indicate that a bat has caught an insect.


Bat Walk, May 2011

Over twenty people braved the cool evening to look out for bats.


We met at the boating pond to listen to Gordon Hutchinson gave an interesting talk on the bats, their lives and myths surrounding them. Then as the sun dipped below the horizon bat phones (detectors) were handed out.

After listening in vain for Britain's largest bat the noctule, we wandered around the pond to search out the much smaller pipistrelle. Nothing, then at 8:50pm the first clicks were heard.

It was difficult to spot the bats at first, then by the time ten minutes had passed they were swarming all over us.

It was great to hear first the rhythmic click of the bats before the clicking suddenly speeded up as they closed in on some unlucky insect.

Some of the bats that we heard later on were probably daubentons which specialise in skimming across the water to hunt their prey.