A few weeks ago a dedicated group of people headed up on to the reserve to investigate one of the lesser known inhabitants of the woodland. Led by our resident bat expert Laura Whitfield we went on a nightime stroll to learn about these misunderstood creatures of the night.
First we took a walk around the reserve while we waited for the bats to emerge. We learned a bit about the lifestyles of bats and how to use our bats detectors to find (and hopefully identify) the different species. Although we have 6 species of bats present on the reserve the most frequently seen and our targets for the night were Soprano Pipistrelles and Daubenton’s. Pipistrelles were the first to emerge just as we were heading past Corra Linn. Setting our bat detectors to 55kHz we clearly heard the wet slapping sound that Pipistrelle echolocation produces on a bat detector. These tiny bats (which can usefully eat up to 3,000 midges in one night!) swooped over our heads and through the trees as we headed down to a known roost site. Pipistrelles are commonly found roosting in buildings and as well as a site on the reserve we also went to check out a building in New Lanark where Laura knew there was a roost. She encouraged us to find this out for ourselves by squeezing some bat poo she found sprayed on the wall of the building. Bat poo is much like mouse poo except that when you squeeze it is supposed to be dry and crumbly… unfortunately this isn’t the case when it is very fresh as we discovered that night!
The highlight of the evening however was surely the display put on for us by the Daubenton’s bats. Daubenton’s are also known as the water bat because they tend to hunt low over water, grabbing insects as they emerge. On the reserve they can be seen particularly well from the boardwalk where the slow moving waters of the Clyde suit them well. Emerging a little later than the Pipistrelle they can also be distinguished by the machine gun-like rattle of their echolocation. These entertaining little bats swooped continuously round in circles over the surface of the water just below us and were easily followed by torchlight which highlighted their pale white underbellies.
All in all an entertaining evening was had by everyone and many thanks to Laura for sharing her wealth of experience with us! If you’d like to take a walk on the reserve with our rangers then we have our Fabulous Fungi event coming up on Sunday 2nd of October. Places are still available so phone the visitor centre now to book your place. Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre: 01555 665262.
Lizy Smith – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger