Ruth Angell is our Wildlife and Conservation Co-Ordinator and I was lucky enough to join her for a Bat Walk Evening with members of the public. We are very fortunate to have a variety of wildlife on our farms in Devon including dormice, otters and gamboling hares.
We gathered at dusk and were entertained immediately by a pair of little owls flying around, swallows darting above our heads busy feeding and also the donkeys of course. Ruth handed out head torches and Magenta bat detectors so we could tune in and listen to the bats’ ultrasonic calls. Ruth explained that we have 17 breeding species in the UK and that bats emit sounds at very high frequencies using the echoes to build a picture of their surroundings, enabling them to fly at night and hunt for insects; this is known as echolocation. After a brief safety talk, and much to the bemusement of the donkeys watching, we headed off down the track towards the Hermitage Woods and Field of Dreams.
The Sanctuary after hours is even more tranquil and we were serenaded by tawny owls in the woods as we walked down the path. All of a sudden some black shadows began darting around the sky. We turned on our detectors and waited… and not for long. We picked up a common pipistrelle straight away. It’s amazing to see them dart around so fast and silent, and now we could hear all their little clicks, pips and ticks in their secret world as they circled over us catching their dinner.
Time flew by and soon it was gone 11pm and we had identified two more bat species, the long-eared bat and noctule, one of the largest UK species. This to me sounded like marbles being played with!
After a final walk past the Nature Centre and through the Hermitage Wood, we headed back up the tracks and in for a much needed cup of tea. Everyone had really enjoyed themselves and I can’t wait to go on the next one.
If you are interested, the next Bat Walk Evenings are being held on:
- Friday 15 July at 9.15pm
- Friday 12 August at 8.30pm
- Friday 9 September at 7.30pm
These events are free, but booking is essential. Everyone is welcome, however, the event is considered suitable for adults and children over 8 years old. For more information and to book a place, please contact Ruth on 01395 573162 or at firstname.lastname@example.org