We have added the bat survey dates to the calendar for 2018 and hope to see some of you there. This year we will be surveying Low North Camp, Cropton Cabins, Keys Beck and Broad Head Farm. Please let Nick Gibbons know if you are coming at 07790 113025. This will help should there be a cancellation for weather and we can also hopefully do some car sharing where practical. Anyone with any bat detectors and recorders please bring them with you. I shall bring some SD cards which I can analyse for bat calls if you do not wish to do your own.
Thanks to a break in the weather we managed to complete the bat box checks across the whole forest. A grand total of 72 bats of 6 species were recorded – Common and Soprano pipitrelle, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s, Brown long-eared and Noctule. Brown long-eared was an extra species to or spring checks and were found at Wykeham and Keys Beck. The latter site produced a total of 3 bats this time which was a nice surprise after a complete blank in the spring check. During the checks we also managed to add replacement boxes in both Wykeham and Broadhead to replace the damaged ones removed during the spring.
We plan to do some repairs on the hibernation boxes at Broadhead soon and also add some replacement boxes to Pexton Ponds area where there are only a few good boxes left at present. The Broadhead hibernation boxes clearly contain a maternity colony during the summer as there was 5-6cms of droppings in the bottom of both of the boxes and a Noctule was still present when we did the check.
At Dalby Beck we found a male Natterer’s with a ring on – Y2833. A quick ask around of John Altringham and John Drewitt originally lead us to believe we had misread the ring as there was a male Natterer’s, Y3833, ringed at the windy pits in 2003. It later transpired that the bat had actually been rung at Ellerburn church in 2013 and Y2833 was the correct number. It has been recorded at the church each year since it was ringed.
With the help of some amazing photos from the archive from Brian C the Society put a stand up for the Rotunda Birthday event over the August bank holiday. Some of the photos of our early pioneers of the SFNS show how dedicated they were and how they worked with their very basic equipment of the time – no digital photos and long lenses then. The stand created some interest with a few people picking out names they knew recorded in the first minutes of the SFNS in April 1899. The stand was unmanned so there are sadly no records of any comments apart from those on the reception evening on the Friday.
The Rotunda appears to be thinking of this as an annual event so we need to think of what we want to do for next year and also look for volunteers to help out. One of Brian’s ideas is to get photos from the archive with ‘un-named’ people on them and see if we can get anyone to recognise them.
Must be just the time for the second brood of Wall brown butterflies as there were 4+ at Rodger Trod (TA018960) on Sunday 27th Aug 2018 and 2+ at Broxa at Reasty Bank (SE9494) on Sunday 28th August.Nick G
Despite the gloomy forecasts for the weather earlier in the week it was a good warm evening with little wind and with plenty of insects available for the bats to eat. From the car park we descended to the nearest viewpoint over the water to sit and wait. A heron flew in and perched on the top of the pines to our left and was beautifully silhouetted against the sky. The first surprise of the evening was that our first bat at 8.23 was a Noctule . This was clearly visible feeding above us with its characteristic ‘chip’chop’ call coming from the bat detectors. It was soon joined a by a second, and these bats continued to feed high over the valley for most of the time we were present. After 10 minutes and with no other bats other than the feeding Noctules we headed off down the lake to see what else we could find. Our first pipistrelle, a Common, did not appear until 8.39, soon to be followed by a Soprano pipistrelle at 8.41. By the time we reached the dam at the far end of the lake there was still little activity from any bats apart from the Noctules. A few pipistrelles of both species passed through and we then headed back half way up the lake towards the car park, disturbing a toad off the track as we went, and sat at another view point. Despite it now being quite dark there was still no sign of any Daubenton’s bats over the water which was the second surprise of the evening, as it seems a very suitable site. A few Common and Soprano pipistrelles were feeding in front of us but it was relatively quiet. As a last resort we returned to our starting point at the top of the lake where we found Common and Soprano pipitsrelles in numbers, regularly having 2+ bats in front of us. At last the rattle of a Myotis bat on the detectors and, turning on the light, we had some good views of Daubenton’s bats flying low over the water for the next 10 minutes. There was probably only one or two Daubenton’s present judging by the timing of their appearances.
Analysis of the calls from the two recorders the following day did show that we had missed 2 passes by Daubenton’s bat earlier in the evening, one near the dam and the other half way back up the lake. The second ‘missed call’ was particularly interesting as it revealed those characteristic reverse hook pattern of a Daubenton’s social call which I have not seen as clearly as this recording for some time.
There were also some nice Noctule calls with changes from the short flat calls, when little information on their surroundings is required in a large open area, to steep sweeping calls when they got closer to the side of the valley and more navigational information was required.
A good finish to the Nats outdoor programme for 2017.
Seven turned out to check what bats were using the Key’s Beck pond site where the spring bat box check showed a complete absence of bats. We managed to do recording at four different points around the site which consists of two ponds with a causeway between the two. Recorders were stationed at the northern and southernmost points of the pond, on the causeway and also on a forest ride through some mature trees to the west of the ponds. We started at 8.50pm and finished at 10.30pm. We were a little surprised to find access tricky due to the extensive harvesting that is going on in the area but managed to all get down to the site ready to start on time. The felling will clearly make the site more exposed in the short term but will recover after restocking.
Results are quite interesting. Common pips were very active around the causeway between the two ponds.with an average of a pass every 20secs or so throughout the survey period, whilst none of the other points recorded anywhere near that activity. The lower pond where I was was a very sheltered spot, and plenty of midges, but very little activity which was a surprise. The upper pond site and the ride site had good Common pip activity but only in short bursts which is again surprising when compared to the causeway site. Despite the large area of water only a single Myotis species, almost certainly a Daubenton’s from the sonogram, appeared to do a fly through the site without stopping being recorded at the upper pond, on the causeway and at the lower pond all in the same 5 min period but not at any other time. Colin, on the ride, picked up a Brown long-eared bat at 22.18 and 22.19 and this was the only other species recorded. It ties up with the lack of usage we have found at the bat boxes but we will see what the autumn check turns up there.
I just got the request below for any Mink records. I have been through the Rye Nats records and found one from 2013. Has anyone in the Scarborough Nats seen any Mink at all please?
Water Vole Project
The North York Moors has small but valuable populations of water vole in the upper catchments of the Esk, Murk Esk and Leven. Volunteers have been surveying these populations for the last 15 years and have seen declines similar to those seen across the country.
This decline is mainly due to loss and fragmentation of bankside habitat (vegetation), alterations to river management and the spread of American mink (a destructive and invasive non-native predator of water vole – and many other native species). Though much habitat improvement and connectivity work has, and is currently being carried out, we must tackle the mink problem.
To do this, we first need to understand the numbers and movements of mink, through collating records. This knowledge will hopefully lead to coordinated trapping, allowing water vole recolonization and possible reintroductions to areas they were lost from, and also benefits to the entire river system.
Please could you help and report any American mink sightings to Sam at the National Park by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him on 01439 772700.
This Exploited Land of Iron Trainee
North York Moors National Park Authority
The Old Vicarage, Bondgate, Helmsley, York YO62 5BP
Telephone: 01439 772700
What an evening. After and inauspicious start with a gusty wind and mist occasionally rolling around it did not seem likely to be god for nightjars. Standing in the wind we had one brief ‘hear’ of a Woodcock only and by 9.35 it looked bleak. Walking further down the track into a more sheltered area we soon heard the ‘cwick’ of a flying bird on the clearfell to our left partly hidden by trees. Some of us ventured across some heather and brash to get a better view the other side of the trees and were soon rewarded by a male streaking low across the clearfell and ‘bouncing’ a second bird. The light was still good at this stage. There was quite a bit of churring then from at least two birds and one flew up from the heather between the two groups, possibly a female. We all gathered again on the track and had some good views of flying males. A lot of cwicking from the clearfell caused some of us to venture back through the small band of trees only to have a male bird come to rest on the ground some 10m away, fluffing out its tail and wings showing its white spots. The light was good enough to see all the details of its cryptic markings. To make things better it then did a quick flit right past us and settled on a log some 6m away completely unphased by our presence. Still flicking its tail and wings it then moved from the log to a small twig above still flicking away its wings and tail. After some 2-3 minutes it took flight and did some nice low passes over the whole group. While this was going on another male was giving the group left on the track some really good views as well. Re-uniting on the track the birds continued to fly about and chur from various points around the enormous clearfell. On at least one occasion there was three birds churring at the same time. It was good to hear a lot of display flight wing clapping and its ‘clockwork toy running down’ chur. Mapping all the churring there are at least 4 males on the site and possibly 5.
It was sad there was only 5 of us there to see it.
It has been a week for rescuing hedgehogs from potential road traffic. On Tuesday 1st August Rob Stark stopped when a hedgehog was wandering around the road at East Ayton. Rob stopped and moved the endangered animal into the adjacent churchyard which is hopefully where it was safer and where it had been going. Then on 7th August I was coming back through Hackness from a bat survey and noted a hedgehog in the middle of the road astride the white line. I thought it had been harmed as there was a big pool of ‘red’ around it. Stopping I found the big pool of red was actually a flattened young pheasant or partridge and the hedgehog was feeding on it. I moved the ‘remains’ to the verge and then moved the hedgehog after it. After some grumbled complaints, presumably about having it’s dinner disturbed, the hedgehog ploughed off through the long vegetation into the field.
Harland Mount is a small YWT reserve on the outskirts of Scarborough. Rob Stark has been doing a breeding birds survey on it this year and vey little is known of the bat usage of the site. A muster of 7 people turned out and the bat survey was completed successfully. The top meadow was largely Common and Soprano pipitrelle with an odd pass of a Noctule and Myotis species. The lower meadow was much more productive with a good number of both pipistrelle but also several Myotis feeding at the southern end of the meadow where the hedgerow meets the woodland. There is also clearly a major Noctule roost somewhere to the south-east of the reserve as in one 20min spell a total of 16 were recorded, all flying fairly high and all heading north-west. Below Stepney Hill Farm where they were heading is a nice valley with a pond and may be a good feeding area. We did not add any nocturnal birds to Rob’s survey although owls were in the neighbourhood.