Thursday, 30 September 2010

Holy mackerel bat woman – its bats in the belfry!


Anne Youngman’s bat blog

Batty old woman here, reporting from the attic on a brilliantly batty talk and walk that was held at Dunblane Cathedral on Saturday 18th September.

The event was organised by Historic Scotland’s very own Bat Woman; Natalie Taylor (also known fondly as Nat-the-Bat to her friends). I was “Robin” her beautiful assistant (Ha Ha).

Flocks of Dunblane folk gathered at the cathedral for a bit of an evening adventure. Their first task was a hunt to find the Cathedral’s own resident bat. Ben (only 9) found the carved bat miserichord under one of the choir stalls. It’s a rather strange bat, more like a cat with wings. Why it’s there and what its significance is, is a complete mystery (But if YOU know the explanation I’d love to hear it!)

Once the cat-bat had been located we returned to our pews. Natalie gave a lively talk with help from willing volunteers in the audience.
We were wowed by the wingspan of the Kalong (it really is long!) and our hearts melted at the sweet name of the Bumble bee bats.
We had fun testing our bat detectors with a sonic cat scarer and we were warned that our pipistrelles would make “rude raspberries” as feeding buzzes. Then just before venturing out into the night we met a very special guest “squeaker”; Catriona McBat.

Catriona is a pipistrelle bat who was found in the Dundee Library (We believe in the Natural History section!). She’d been on a “health farm holiday “ in Dunblane, i.e. sleeping all day and stuffing her face with mealworms all night, and was due to be released outside the library in a few nights time. She tried to tell us all about her adventures but sadly no one understood her squeaks! With Catriona safely tucked back in her box we all flitted out into the night, bat detectors at the ready.

We were very lucky as the weather stayed dry and despite the cool temperature there were plenty of bats around. We heard rude raspberries, wet slappies and grumbling Geiger counter noises - and that was just from the detectors! From the humans there were lots of squeaks of excitement and general bat chat.

When things seemed quiet we made a “hotspot” by standing close together. This attracts insects into the warm air above our heads and seemed to be a way of attracting the bats to come in closer too.
It was such a good night we’ve decided to do it all again next year! Watch this space!

Over and out,

Anne Youngman
The old bat in the Attic, Scottish churches House, Dunblane.



The bat care network:

Just like Catriona McBat, hundreds of bats find themselves injured or grounded and lost away from their roosts every year. For the majority, their chances of survival depend on the goodwill of members of the public and the hard work and dedication of volunteer bat carers.

Thanks to these volunteers, BCT is able to coordinate a bat care network across the UK. There are currently just over 300 bat carers in the network; some are extremely experienced and run bat hospitals, others do small scale bat care and some will only act as an “ambulance driver” or first aid help, preferring to pass bats on to more experienced carers where necessary. BCT also has contact details for a few wildlife hospitals who take in bats on a regular basis, particularly in areas where there are very few bat carers.

In areas where there are no bat carers available, callers have to be advised to take the bats directly to local vets, who can call BCT for information if they are not familiar with bats. There are some counties and areas where there are very few or no contacts and we are therefore always in need of new carers.

If your are interested in finding out more about becoming a bat carer, please email Xenia Snowman (xsnowman@bats.org.uk).

If you find a grounded or injured bat, please call the National Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228 and we will provide you with details of any bat carers in your local area.

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