Out with the old…

It’s that time of year again when we have the opportunity to clear out the bat boxes in our bat box scheme, removing old bird nests and checking for droppings. We also plan and undertake repairs, relocate boxes (such as those that have been vandalised) and take the opportunity to take a look in woodpecker holes and other potential roost features for hibernating bats.

No hibernating bats were found today, but we did find some evidence of bats using boxes that they haven’t used before. One of our big maternity boxes (pictured above) had some conspicuous marks around the entrance, made by a woodpecker. This is an indication that SOMETHING was inside. (Woodpeckers listen for sounds and attempt to gain entry!) As suspected, there was the remains of a nest inside, and the nest itself was covered in bat droppings! The size and shape of the droppings indicate Brown Long Eared bats, which we have recorded in boxes on the site before. And it’s not unusual for bats to co-habit boxes with birds. If you think about it, they are not only using a different part of the box (bats are tucked up in the ‘roof’ and the bird nest is on the bottom) but also using the entrance at different times of the day, with bats being nocturnal and birds diurnal.

We also found two bird nests with unhatched eggs inside them. These eggs will be long-dead, possibly after the mother was killed by a predator, but it was interesting to see the eggs up close. Another nest (made by a blue tit) wins the competition for modern, innovative construction techniques! It used the fluorescent fibers from a tennis ball as part of its construction! Wimbledon fan, perhaps?

We have many more boxes to clean out over the next few weeks, and hope to find more bats with the endoscope too, so watch this space!

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