The last two days have been spent out of the office working on buildings covered by European Protected Species bat licences. Yesterday I was right on the coast in West Sussex, on a glorious spring day in full sunshine, whereas today I was working near Andover, on a dull and dreary day, shrouded in fog. With the amazing spring weather yesterday I was expecting to see some new migrants whilst working, but all I got was an occasional passing Mediterranean Gull and my first sunburn of the year....and no bats!!
Today, with the murky conditions, there was no chance of any sunburn as it was nowhere to be seen, but I was confident of some bats. I was working next to a patch of mature woodland, with an active rookery, and so my morning was spent listening to the bizarre array of calls these birds make whilst nesting. My job today was to strip an area of hanging tiles from part of a roof in search of bats, before the builders arrived to do their bit.
I began stripping the tiles, slowly and carefully, and before long found my first bat. This little critter was nestled in a corner hoping not to be noticed as I removed tiles, but seemed decidedly unperturbed by the experience.
I gathered this little bat up and popped it into one of the bat boxes I had previously erected, and left it to continue sleeping. Continuing on with my work it was not long before I had found a second bat, again another Common Pipistrelle, which I again placed in a bat box to continue sleeping.
I always enjoy working on buildings and seeing how bats use them, but this particular site had a few other species present as well. At the apex of the roof an old House Martin nest was present, and as I striped tiles I noticed loads of small black beads dropping to the floor. I have seen these beads before in Common Swift nests.....they were the pupae of Hippoboscid Flat Flies!! There must have been more than 100 pupae beneath the tiles, so I hope that by removing the tiles, and the parasite, I have made life a bit easier for the House Martins when they return later on the year.
Other species that were abundant were the invasive Harlequin Ladybird, which in recent years seems to have taken over the UK, and loads of Cluster Flies and Green Lacewing. The latter two species proved to be an irresistible attraction for one of the resident Robins. This individual was so tame that it was removing flies from the tiles before I had put them on the floor.
With my work complete for the day I headed back home, but not before a quick stop at Longwater Bridge for some patch listing. And I was not to be disappointed with a lone Shelduck on the lake to the south, a new addition to my patch list.