9am on a Sunday morning and I am 15 feet up a ladder poking a long camera tube into a bat box. The Friends of Fibbersley Local Nature Reserve are pretty handy when it comes to bird and bat boxes, as they have built all of the reserve’s boxes themselves! They have quite a successful bird box scheme, and also have 9 Kent and Stebbbings style bat boxes on 3 trees. The problem with the two designs is that, although successful, they cannot be opened and checked unless the design is modified slightly.
The Friends group wanted to know if their boxes were being used, so I offered to check them with my endoscope (a camera on a long tube with a hand-held display screen) – which is something for which you need a bat licence.
Athough no bats were found in any of the boxes, several of the boxes had bat droppings caught up in spider webs inside, which were consistent with the size of pipistrelle droppings. We’re going to survey the site later this month, and in the mean time the Friends group are planning their winter project – building more boxes to go on the reserve.
We have bat boxes in a number of sites around Walsall, and some have been more effective than others. In general, older, larger woodlands will have more bats in, but if you have a young site with small trees which would not ordinarily have roosting opportunities for bats, then all the more reason to try out a few boxes! The boxes at Fibbersley have all been up less than 18 months and several have already been used, so you’ve nothing to lose! BCT have some great information on putting up bat boxes HERE.