A few weeks ago we held our last of a series of events to celebrate the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve’s 5th Birthday. The event, ‘Moonlit mammals’ focussed on the different nocturnal mammals we find at the Falls of Clyde and in the surrounding area, from badgers and deer to otters and bats. We took a walk through the reserve looking for field signs and evidence of all these different creatures and kept our fingers crossed to hopefully see one or two of them.
Sadly our badgers were being rather elusive and we didn’t get to see any but we did see a lot of bats. At this time of year they are in a bit of a feeding frenzy preparing themselves for hibernation starting at the end of this month. They are nature’s natural pesticide hoovering up on average 3,000 midges each per night! They have to consume around 60% of their body weight each day to survive because they use a lot of their energy just hunting for food. We saw two different species including my favourite daubenton’s. They’re also known as water bats because they’re found (you’ve guessed it!) near water. They fly low across the river catching emerging insects that have spent their life as larvae on the bottom of the river bed. They emerge as adults to breed for a just a few weeks unless they get picked off by a daubenton’s bat first. Using a bat detector it is possible to figure out the different bat species. On the detector a soprano pipistrelle bat and a daubenton’s bat echolocate at a frequency around 55kHz. However a daubenton’s bat sounds a lot like machine gun fire, a rapid series of dry clicks as opposed to a soprano pipistrelle that sounds like wet slaps and plops!
Laura Whitfield – Falls of Clyde Ranger