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 us.
Bat Walk - April 2022
After a day of heavy rain and a cold wind, there were some doubts as to whether the bats would make their usual appearance around the Boating Lake, and Gordon’s introductory talk about bats and their habits was cut short by a brief rain shower. Then after a chilly wait the pipistrelles appeared, in rather better numbers than in recent years, and entertained the group with their customary acrobatics, punctuated by the clicks and buzzes from the bat detectors.
Gordon usually receives requests for extra bat watches from local groups, and this year 15 cubs and their leaders from the 221 North London (Hornsey) pack were thrilled to see the bats on a much warmer evening.
Bat Walk - September
On a warm, calm evening, one of the best we’ve had for a bat watch, 18 people turned up to hear and see bats by the Boating Lake. They weren’t disappointed, though the bats were slow to appear, their numbers were again down on previous years and they didn’t stay for long; perhaps they have found a more insect-rich area elsewhere. Nevertheless the thrill of seeing the bats swooping low overhead and detecting the ‘shouts’ they use to echolocate their insect prey, via the clicks from bat detectors, made the wait worthwhile. As usual, only common and soprano pipistrelle bats were detected.
Bat Walk, Autumn 2019
No rain, no strong wind so a good outlook for the walk. Gordon gave us a talk on bats as the light fell and we waited for our flying cousins to appear.
We heard about the structure of bat wings, the size of the bats and the number of insects eaten per night. This helped us understand how the creatures fit in within the ecosystem (and why we should be thankful for their reduction in numbers of mosquitoes).
After the sun had gone down, the "bat detectors" were given out and we listened out for the clicks of the bats.
After the usual hesitant start then bats were flying close over our heads and in numbers.
Bat Walk, Spring 2019
Layers were needed to combat the cold, but luckily no wind or rain so we expected to see some bats.
Gordon used one of the smaller members of the audience illustrate the structure of a bat wing - long fingers with skin stretched between them. The usual vampire bat disclaimers were mentioned and after more bat information, the bat detectors were given out to the twenty or so strong audience.
A quiet period ensued as it got gradually darker and then on queue one or two pipistrelle bat made their appearance and after a distinct pause they were joined by a few more flying mammals.
Bat Watch, Autumn 2018
A warm day, followed by clear skies after sunset, are ideal conditions for bat watching, and we had just those conditions for the bat watch at the Boating Lake.
After a short explanation from Gordon of the anatomy and habits of the bats we were going to see, bursts of clicks from the bat detectors alerted us to their arrival.
Then it was easy to see the bats zig-zagging over the water, and our heads, searching for their ‘breakfast’ of flies. New technology helped us to decide that there were definitely soprano pipistrelle bats present, as well as the common pipistrelles, but still no sign of the Daubenton’s bat which we hope to see skimming across the lake.
Spring Bat Walk, 2018
Not a prepossessing start to the Bat Walk with drizzle forcing the group to gather in the shelter of the Boating Lake Cafe. We shouldn't really have been surprised after this season's dreadful weather... ....you only have to look at the mud around the Park. Enough of that, sorry.
Gordon gave a talk an introduction to British Bats and those to be found around the world and luckily the rain stopped. (Un)fortunately he was interrupted in his presentation with an early arrival at the Boating Lake. This was our largest bat the Noctule which we only see from time to time. This time it hung around high-ish above the Boating Lake searching for food and everybody managed to get a good sight of it.
After the sun went down (invisible to our eyes), we walked along the Boating Lake and it wasn't long before we started to "hear" the Pipistrelles on our Bat Detectors. They swept by lower than the Noctule at around head level and delighted the group with their aerial antics.
Wandering further around the lake, we heard them all along the way.
Although, probably due to the inclement weather, we didn't see as many Pipistrelle bats as usual, this Bat Walk will be remember for the best sightings yet of the Noctule (and some people may have even spotted a Daubenton's Bat skimming the water.
Autumn Bat Walk, 2017
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
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
Autumn Bat Walk 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.
Spring Bat Walk 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.
Autumn Bat Walk 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.
Spring Bat Walk 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 the 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 again a fully booked, successful walk.
Autumn Bat Walk 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
Bat Walk, September 2013
Bat Walk, April 2013