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Horley Conservation Group

Horley Conservation Group – Bat Walk, September 2016

As members of the Surrey Wildlife Trust, Horley Conservation Group is given access to one free educational activity per year. This year the group decided to invite Laura Ashfield to host an evening devoted to Bats.
 
After a night and day of heavy rain the sun came out in time for a group of us to gather at the Farmhouse pub to meet Laura Ashfield from the Surrey Wildlife Trust with the hope of finding some of our local bat population.
 
Laura started off by giving us a very interesting talk on bats and their lifestyle, complete with Laura’s rendition of what the different bats calls and eating sound like!

5 interesting bat facts

  • Bats wings are made up of their fingers with the wing skin, connected between the finger bones

  • Bats hunt at dusk (from approximately 20mins before sunset) for a few hours then have a rest and hunt again just before dawn

  • They eat on the wing grabbing insects from the air and munching them there and then

  • There are 18 species of bats in the UK (17 breading), which is almost a quarter of our mammal species

  • Common Pipistrelles weigh just 5 grams (same as a 20p piece), but can eat 3,000 tiny insects in just one night!

What we found.

Laura handed out bat detectors, clever devices that enable humans to hear the bats’ high frequency calls, which are normally beyond the range of human hearing. 
 
We then ventured out into the surrounding woodland and lanes, to see what we could see or rather hear.  Laura explained that the bats had probably not been out that morning.  Insects, their prey, don’t like the rain and it had been raining for the last 12 hours.  So we had a good chance of seeing them that evening. 
 
We started off with a walk around Tanyard Pond.   Different bat species are different sizes and make different calls so a trained ear like Laura’s is able to identify which species we could hear.    With our detectors tuned to 25kHz we were able to pick up a small number of calls of the Noctule bat.  This, the largest British species, is usually the first to appear in the evening.   
 
We then walked along Langshott Lane and out into Tanyard Meadow where by the large oak trees our detectors at 45kHz went wild with the calls of Common Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle bats – complete with the wetter slapping sounds of them eating.      
 
Laura then got us to turn off our detectors and listen to what to our human ear was silence, but we now knew was alive with higher pitched activity. After briefly crossing the brook and hearing more calls, we walked back through the Meadows and up Lake Lane to the pub, a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours after we had met. 

What you can do to help

Bats are wonderful little creatures that often live in close proximity to us, using our gardens as an important source of food, water and shelter.  As bats’ natural habitats are becoming rarer our gardens, which together cover a greater area than all the National nature reserves, provide an important habitat for them. There are a number of simple steps that the Bat Conservation Trust recommend to help turn your garden in to a bat haven:
  • Plant night-scented flowers
  • Build a pond
  • Let your garden go a little wild
  • Put up a bat box
  • Create linear features i.e hedgerows/treelines
  • Reduce or remove artificial lighting
  • Keep cats indoors at night 
 
At 3,000 insects, hopefully mosquitos, a night, I aim to make my garden as bat friendly as possible!
 

Thank you to Laura for a wonderful evening. 

To find out more about bats and how you can help these amazing but vulnerable animals, visit the Bat Conservation Trust’s website where you can become a member and discover the many ways you can get involved to do your bit for bats! The website is www.bats.org.uk and the National Bat Helpline can be reached on 0345 1300 228

Wild About Gardens Week: (http://www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/about) has a range of resources and advice on how to help wildlife in your garden including bats.

If you are interested in being part of the Horley Conservation Group please email Bill Chaffe, Secretary at horleyconservationgroup@outlook.com

 :Common Pipistrelle_03.jpeg

Common Pipistrelle      (c) Hugh Clark/www.bats.org.uk

 
Update January 2016
 
Whilst most people were still recovering from Christmas and New Year celebrations members of the Horley Conservation Group were busy at work.  With snow laying on the ground a team of volunteers made their way to Emlyn Meadows to work off some of the extra calories taken in over the festive season.  The team cut back blackthorn that was encroaching on both sides of the style and on the pond.  The pond area itself  was cleared of rubbish and had a substantial amount of vegetation raked out.  You can see the team at work in the attached pictures.
 
The next task is on February 20th at Langshott Woods when some of the Rhododendron growth will be cut back and burnt.
Our proposed task diary for the first half of 2016 is shown below so please feel free to turn up on the day – suitably dressed down!

Our AGM will be held on the evening of Monday 22nd February starting at 6pm at Trinity Oaks School. We are looking forward to a very busy and challenging year which will hopefully include the launch of a group website, progress on the development of a community orchard facility, attendance at the town carnival as well as more tasks to make our area a nicer one to enjoy life in.

Catherine Baart
Joint Chairperson
07770 855746
Jan Spratt
Joint Chairperson
07860 622228
Bill Chaffe
Secretary
07771 798766
Kevin Lerwill
Gatwick Greenspace Partnership
07788 101544

Our first task of 2016 was scrub clearance at Emlyn Meadows last Sunday 17th January (above).

HCG Task Calendar 2016
DATE & TIME
VENUE
ACTIVITY
 
Saturday 20th February
Tanyard Pond
Rhododendron removal (limited parking at Jenning’s Way)
Monday 22nd February
AGM @ Trinity Oaks School
This meeting starts at 6pm
Sunday 20th March
As per February
 
Sunday 17th April
Tanyard Pond, Langshott.
Parking at Farmhouse Pub (general tidy up).
Saturday 14th May
Ragwort pulling
venue tbc
Sunday 12th June
Church Meadow. Park at “Six Bells” pub car park, Church Road, RH6 8AD
Himalayan Balsam removal and flower bed maintenance).
Saturday 16th July
Riverside Garden Park, RH6 7LN.
Wildlife Walk (or H. Balsam removal).
 
For all the above tasks, meet at 0945 for 10am start. Please wear suitable clothing and footwear.
Tools and instruction provided. For details, contact kevinlerwill@sussexwt.org.uk or call 01293 550730
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Horley Conservation Group please also contact Kevin.

Take a look at some of this work done by our volunteers in 2014 and in early 2015:

Hawkmoth caterpillar
Riverside Gdn Park: Black Poplar planting (Jan '15)
Riverside Gdn Park: Elder coppicing (Jan '15)
Riverside Gdn Park: Black Poplar planting (Jan '15)
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