Thursday, 22 December 2011

BATS in COTTAM

Right now, our only flying mammals are hibernating in trees, buildings and specially provided bat-boxes, in our area - but where? See below for a request for information.
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In the few months that I have lived in Cottam, I have established some good hunting/feeding areas, including Haydock Lane pond, where I think there are Daubenton's (or Water) Bats, with Pipistrelle Bats feeding abundantly at the Cottam Way/Valentines Lane junction, and the Hoyles Lane/Miller Lane junction.
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In addition to these spots, individual bats have been located at many, many places in the area.
The tiniest of creatures (compare with the tip of a thumb)
but a wing-span of up to 9.5 inches
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It is my intention to hold some bat-walks in the spring and early summer - in fact as many as demand dictates. I have approached the primary school with a view to running parent and children Friday evenings, and I'm sure there must be other interested parties. I have also had an offer from a bat expert to come along and help lead the walks.
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I have bat-detectors for use on those walks, so if you're interested, please register that interest with me:

prestonbirder@aol.com

Also, if you know of the location of any bat roosts in Cottam, please let me know about them at the same email address.
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Posted by: Steve Halliwell............ want to know a little more about a year in the life of a bat, starting from now?



December: Bats are hibernating. They may roost alone or in small groups, often in cool, quiet places like disused buildings, old trees or caves, (not many of those in Cottam!) where they won't, hopefully, be disturbed.

January: Bats spend most of the winter hibernating, a state of inactivity characterised by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate.

February: Still hibernating. They will have little fat to live off now. May leave the roost on warmer nights to find food and a drink of water.

March: May begin to emerge, and signs of limited activity can be seen. There will be small numbers feeding as it gets warmer. In bad weather they may become torpid.

April: They will now, in the main, come out of hibernation, and are hungry and active, feeding on most nights. They may move between several roost sites, but can become torpid again if the weather turns colder.

May: Fully active and feeding. Females start forming maternity colonies, and looking for suitable nursery sites, such as buildings or trees. Males will roost on their own or in small groups (of males).

June: Female bats usually give birth to a single pup, which they feed on their milk. Adults will catch thousands of insects each in a night - believed to be in the region of 3,000 each per night.

July: Mothers continue to suckle young. Young are growing fast, and some will be reaching full size. At around three weeks of age, young bats are sometimes found on the ground as they learn to fly.

August: At six weeks old, the young bats begin to catch insects themselves and no longer need their mother's milk. The summer maternity colonies begin to disperse, and bats may move to mating roosts.

September: The mating season begins, with males of most species using special mating calls to attract females, which can include purrs, clicks and buzzing. They are also concentrating on building up fat stores for the coming months.

October: More mating is taking place, and building up fat reserves is becoming crucial to survive the winter. They will begin seeking suitable hibernation sites, and beginning periods of torpor.

November: Periods of torpor are lasting longer. Some begin hibernation, to save energy over the coming months, when insects are harder to find. They are using stored fat as fuel.

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