Early evening on Saturday a slimmed down band of Bucks Bechstein Project volunteers i.e. just 3 of us, packed up both traps and all the kit ready for the long walk into the section of mature oak woodland we were surveying in North Bucks.
Here’s a photo of a harp trap assembled, the width of the catch bag is nearly 2 metres long.
Plus we had to carry the Auto Bat ‘lure’ equipment and its batteries and all our regular ‘batting’ kit. So by the time we’d reached our destination through a heavy shower we were nice and warm. After erecting the two traps which take about 5 minutes each we then have to sit and wait for 1 hour after civil twilight ends before we can turn them on. Then we attempt to lure the bats to the calls the machine is emitting. Well last week the team (alas without me) managed to catch and process 5 Bechsteins Bats! To explain how rare they are (and not even supposed to be in Bucks) these were the 2nd to 6th records ever in Bucks!
So tonight hopes were high that we do have Bechsteins in Bucks. Unfortunately the weather was poor and temperatures were cool.Earlier on the path along to the wood I noticed a huge dead Mole. So with time to kill I went back to take these photo’s. This is the best ‘dead’ conditioned Mole I’ve ever seen (never seen a live one – yet!) So it’ll be added to my dead mammal list for the year.
Sorry about the quality but check out those front paws!Showing against my Maglite 2 AA torch shows the scale of how big the mole was.
Behind our ‘bat processing area’/camp between the two traps we also noticed this female Glow Worm in the grass. She’d actually turned off her light because it took me so long to try and get these record shots. She soon turned back on again after I’d finished. I had to turn the flash off on the camera and use my head torch for light.
When the time came to turn on the traps we were well chuffed 15 minutes later to get a Natterers Bat in trap 2, so at least bats were on the wing even though the weather was poor. Our next inspection of trap 1 revealed 3 bats. These turned out to be 2 juvenile male Bechsteins and another male Natterers. We were so chuffed. These were a lifer for me and my 37th mammal species this year.
A third visit to trap 1 revealed another bat - another Bechsteins – this time a full adult male and only the 9th record ever in the county! What a night! And that was that no more bats recorded and our surveying time had sadly come to an end.
I’m not at liberty to talk about the angry Hornet that pestered us as we dismantled trap 1 the others are still deafened from my scream as it bumped into the back of my head in the pitch black.