Tuesday 8 June 2021

'Dorset Abilities Group - introducing people with disABILITIES to bat conservation

Ross putting a bat box together (Photo by DAG)
by Matthew, Ross, Tracy, Katie, Jack & Fliss (DAG Group Members)

Dorset Abilities Group (DAG) visit a local nature reserve, The Kingcombe Centre on a regular basis for nature walks and we have polytunnel where we grow vegetables and prior to Covid we also took part in various woodwork and natural craft projects.  Kingcombe is part of Dorset Wildlife Trust and set in a rural location surrounded by fields and woodland, the perfect habitat for bats! 

Matt Harcourt who runs the Kingcombe centre asked us if would be willing to help put together bat boxes, along with bird nesting boxes and bug houses.

Matt brought the cut wood and we put the boxes together, following the design Matt gave us. The boxes were grooved (outside and inside) which help the bats climb in and out and the design features a bat ladder with a narrow entrance slit at the bottom.

We enjoyed doing it as a team, helping put the boxes together and we learnt lots about bats as Matt is truly knowledgeable and happy to share what he knows.  We delivered the boxes, and they were nailed to the eaves of an outbuilding.

Jack, Ross & Fliss delivering boxes to the Kingcombe Centre (Photo by DAG)

We discovered what the height of boxes needed to be and the best places to put them. We always thought it was ok to paint or varnish the boxes however we learnt from Matt this was the wrong thing to do.
  Bats like natural wood.  Matt advised whatever you make for wildlife, do not use any paint or varnish, this also applied to bug houses and bird boxes that we have made.

It has been fascinating to learn about the eating habits of bats, they particularly like flies and Daddy long legs.  Kingcombe has a log pile to encourage insects, the centre also has a pond which will be great for attracting the flies, it is bat heaven!  Kingcombe do not use pesticides on their land either.

Matt explained that it takes time for the bats to locate new homes.  So, patience is required! He has advised us to look out for urine stains or droppings and listen out for bat chatter coming from inside the box during the evenings or late afternoon.  That will tell us if bats have adopted the box as their new home.

There is little light pollution, so it is a perfect location for the boxes, we imagine it’s pitch black at night.

Three group members checking out the boxes on a recent visit to the Kingcombe Centre (photo by DAG)
Obviously, we are keen to see if the boxes are used and we will be looking for signs of occupation during our visits.  Bats are a protected species so we cannot look inside the boxes or disturb them but knowing we have done something to support these amazing creatures has been really satisfying.


Dorset Abilities Group is an activityservice for adults with learning disabiltiies and mental health problemslocated in Weymouth, Dorset. Find out more about them here.

No comments:

Post a Comment