Evidence in the form of bat droppings suggests the lofts over the house at Uppark are once again accessed by bats. The droppings lead us to believe these are the Long-eared bat, probably the Brown Long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) and are more common than the Grey Long-eared bat. Moths are the primary food source for the Long-eared bat. The bats can hover to take insects from plants and will then hang up to eat each insect and discard the wings, so if a heap of moth wings is found it’s a good sign you may have found a feeding roost.
Sue Harris has been monitoring the bats hibernating in the walls of the underground tunnels for the last few years together with Martyn Phillis who regularly visits Uppark to give his very popular ‘bat talks‘.
The bats are monitored three times each winter, once in December, once in January and then February. The numbers vary but they have found up to 6 different species of bats hibernating. These have included Daubentons ( Myotis daubentonii ) Natterers ( Myotis nattereri) and whiskered/brandts/alcathoe. This last group are very similar so in a hibernation situation it’s difficult to make an accurate identification. These are classified as medium sized bats.
Bats need a cool and humid environment to hibernate in and the tunnels at Uppark can provide this, although at times some sections of the wall get a bit too wet.
Above and below Uppark’s Tunnels: Access for the bats is available through the tunnel lights which provide light and ventilation.
Although bats hibernate they do wake regularly, this may be due to fluctuations in temperature, the bats will move to a more suitable place, to drink or to have a snack if the weather is warm enough for insects to be about. They can also mate during the winter. All the bats in this country feed on insects and each species have specific dietary requirements so they choose different types such as midges to moths to beetles. If you’re interested in more information about bats than have a look at the Bat Conservation Trust website.
Thanks to Sue Harris for her help with this post; providing us with a fascinating insight into the secret world of bats at Uppark.
It’s also time for me to take flight at Uppark. I’ve been offered a seasonal position at Nymans - it’s a fabulous garden if you get a chance to visit and it’s with very mixed feelings that I leave Uppark. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and learned an incredible amount, especially about garden machinery. I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside a very dedicated team of staff and volunteers and I thank them all for the way they’ve made me feel welcome and part of the team right from the beginning. I would especially like to thank Andy Lewis for giving me the opportunity to work for the National Trust. Hopefully I will be back to visit Uppark soon and see how the garden is progressing. In the meantime I can keep up to date by reading this blog!