2016 BAT WALK
Our third annual Bat Walk was a great success. It was led by local bat expert, Philip Briggs, from the London Bat Group. Philip works for the Bat Conservation Trust, but, more locally, he chairs the Richmond Species Action Plan for Bats.
Being slightly later in September than previous years, we had an earlier start. A group of 21 gathered at the Carlisle Road gate, where Philip gave us a highly informative introductory talk: even those of us who have been on bat walks before learned a lot. Who knew that bat calls are so loud that they have to “shut their ears” before they emit them? Or that individuals memorise their own echo-location calls so that they can pick out their own echo amongst other bat calls?
We set off on our circuit of the park just after sunset, and although the weather was cool and breezy, we were very soon rewarded with soprano pipistrelles circling above and around us (often at head height) close to Wensleydale Gardens. They were clearly visible against the western sunset sky, and kept us entertained for many minutes. We heard their calls with our bat detectors, and were able to distinguish “feeding buzzes” before we moved along the western boundary. Here we also detected both common and soprano pipistrelles, but as in previous years, the greatest concentration of activity was near the Hampton Prep. /Wensleydale Gardens boundary. We ventured into the relative wilderness behind the bowling club where we also discovered one or two pipistrelles.
Bats are integral to the environment and are a good indicator of the wildlife we often don’t see - such as the insects they feed on, so their continued presence in Carlisle Park is very encouraging. There seemed to be fewer security lights blazing into the park this year, so perhaps neighbours have responded to our requests to keep lighting to a minimum.
We are very grateful to Philip, and to all those who attended and contributed to making the event so successful. Thanks also to Sue and Colin, from South West London Environment Network (SWLEN), with whom we worked closely to develop a plan and guidance for events such as this within the borough: our bat walk is the pilot for that plan.
We hope all who attended feel inspired to maintain and enhance Carlisle Park, and their own gardens, as dark bat-friendly spaces, with plenty of insects for bat-food! The Bat Conservation Trust has some excellent tips for bat-friendly gardening: