North West Zone: 22/09/2014
At least once a year, we carry out a check and clean of the bat boxes with Martyn Cooke from Surrey Bat Group. Negotiating an ancient, brambly woodland with the massive ladder we borrow from air traffic control is not the easiest job!
Brockley Wood bat boxes
Aside from trying to locate boxes high up in the trees with the use of an incredibly vague map, you have to find secure anchorage for the ladder, avoiding numerous rabbit holes and the rotten branches hidden in the undergrowth.
Peeking inside the very first box, we came across this sleepy huddle...
A hareem of Soprano Pipstrelles
A lucky find, with six sleepy Soprano Pipistrelle Bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) all roosting up together. At this time of year it is almost always just the one male with several females...
Donald looking impressed by Martyn's data entry form
Of course, while you are up those trees on that precarious ladder, bear in mind there might not always be bats living in your bat box!
Martyn peeks into a hibernation box...
Thriving colonies of European Hornets (Vespa crabro) in two of our hibernation boxes is less than ideal. It not really worth disturbing these impressive Hymenopterans, so Martyn respectfully leaves these boxes untouched until the winter.
Other niceties from the day included:
Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera)
Chuffed to see my first male Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua); a little beaut
Speckled Wood Butterfly (Pararge aegeria) on Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)
There was quite a racket coming from the Reed Beds just as we popped out of the woodlands... A Moorhen which hybridised with Kestrel and is trying to be a Water Rail, perhaps?