Thursday, 8 May 2008

Spring Has Sprung....

Three weeks ago I asked whether spring was springing yet, at least in terms of bat behaviour. We can safely say that Spring has now sprung. The chart below shows the night-time temperatures at Gogarbank meteorological station, near Edinburgh, since 1 April. It clearly shows that, after a brief blip at the start o last month, followed by a colder period, the warmer weather is now settling in.

(Met Office Data)

Last night Lothians Bat Group members returned to Blackford Pond and we found a big difference to the events of three weeks ago. For a start, we didn't have to tiptoe through hordes of amorous toads! Of more interest to us was the big increase in bat activity. At least 4 or 5 Daubenton's Bats (Myotis daubetonii) were foraging over the pond and finding plenty of invertebrates to eat. Above the footpaths were many Soprano Pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) and one or two Common Pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus).

Whilst we were there, I was able to hook a frequency division bat detector up to a lap-top running Batsound software alongside the pond. Newer members of the group were able to see sonograms of the common species and compare them with the sounds, to help get a handle on the basics of bat call identification.

To give a flavour of the evening, here's a brief video clip showing two of the Daubenton's Bats over the pond last night. You can hear a heterodyne bat detector in the background.

We mustn't leave out the Pipistrelles: the most charming and delightful to watch of our native bat species. Here's a very short clip of a Soprano Pipistrelle feeding just before dawn this week, at another site in Edinburgh.

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