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.
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.
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.
Louise, Colin and myself, with the help of Geoff Wilson and some other EYBG volunteers, managed to cover three points across the two cemeteries. We met Jan Cleary of the Cemetery Volunteer Group at the start and set off on something other than bats. The cemetery volunteers are keen to survey for hedgehogs and wanted some advice on where to start. In the absence of a number of trail cameras a quick lesson in the identification of hedgehog scat was the order of the day, samples being brought from the garden where we regularly have hedgehogs visiting. Scat could be looked for at any time of day by the volunteers and would give a good indication of hedgehog usage.
It was then a walk for the teams to get to the sites in the Manor Road cemetery for an 8.50pm start, leaving one team by the chapel. The bats started early with Common pipitsrelle being recorded at all three points soon after dusk at 8.55. Common pips were feeding at all three sites almost continuously during the recording sessions with a few scattered records of Soprano pipitsrelle. Three passes of Myotis bats were recorded late in the session but could not be identified further. The ‘chapel’ team had to move a little away from the site as the security lights appeared to be deterring bats. A thought for the chapel upgrade would be better shielded lighting.