FoCP’s First Bat Walk
The Friends’ first bat detection evening took place on 13th September, 2014. It was a great success. Common and soprano pipistrelles were detected, mainly along the double tree line near Denmead and Wensleydale Gardens. The walk was led by a bat expert, Alison Fure, who inspired us with her knowledge of the ecology in the park as it relates to bats, and members who came on the walk are now more determined than ever to protect and enhance the park as a habitat for bats.
For details, see Alison’s full report (also on website). Two of her suggestions tie in with our long-term plan for the park, which we are working on at present.
1) Long grass: Alison commented that there is none in the park (it's a very valuable habitat for insects, and hence for bats). This was discussed with officers earlier in the year. We are pleased now to say that several patches of long grass were left after the flowering of spring bulbs in 2015. This is expected to continue.
2) Tree lines. As explained in Alison Fure’s report (also on the website), bats need unbroken lines of trees to navigate by, and to provide darkness, shelter and food (insects). Alison identified two places where there are breaks in the lime trees that we could consider filling in the long term. One of these is in the place suggested for a birch grove (to the left of the cricket nets, near the Wensleydale Gardens corner).
Light pollution adversely affects bats, and insects, which are their food. Alison explained how insects are attracted to lights and circle round and round to their death: the “vacuum effect” of lights which has a huge adverse effect on their numbers. We noticed that the Cypress trees near Wensleydale Gardens were providing some screening from the streetlights. Some houses adjoining the park have security lights that are extremely bright, spilling light into the areas where we now know bats feed. If this is you, please think of bats and consider reducing the intensity and range of your light.
Alison also encouraged us to treasure the dead wood in the park (as a source of insects), especially the "monolith" beyond the bowling club.
For more information about bats go to: www.bats.org.uk