Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Ghostly Blonde Brock Shock and a Bat Extravaganza

 I only have time for a quick write-up but here are some pics from an epic night catching bats of several species during a swarming survey – we worked from dusk through til around 4am and caught something like 170 bats of nine species. I didn’t get home 'til 6.15am! But the biggest surprise came on the way back, when I had a glimpse of a most unusual mammal disappearing into roadside vegetation – it appeared to be a ‘golden’ or albino badger! Just wish I had seen it for longer, my tired eyes having been slow to pick up on it crossing the road. But I definitely wasn’t hallucinating. Just minutes later I slammed on my brakes to avoid a fox. Had this have been a weird colour I would have been questioning my eyesight but it looked pretty regular!

Above from top: Brandt's, Bechstein's & Natterer's bat

soprano pip
Next outing the following weekend was another one for bats. I really have done a lot of bat stuff this year. And so far this autumn it's been mainly at the expense of birding, though there has been little in the way of temptation, with only one big bird (masked shrike) managing to draw the masses.

I didn't go for the shrike and the day it was found I was checking bat boxes at Southey Wood. It was a still, murky day brightened up by the sound of a raven passing over (still very scarce in the county though less so in this particular corner of it on account of breeding birds just over the nearby Northants border), and we moved from tree to tree checking on the occupants of some 50 bat boxes in the wood. The expected soprano pipistrelles were found but I was really hoping for a Leisler's. I was in luck. Around 30 boxes into the check, a pair of these 'lesser noctules' were pulled from a box. Twice the size of the pips and clearly noctule-like but a little smaller with drabber, less silky fur, this duo provided with me first close-up views of Leisler's, my 13th bat species this year. 
Leisler's bat

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