Our wildlife experts are hailing 2014 as a bumper year for bats.
A warm, stable summer has provided ideal evening conditions for bats to feed on insects, and the good weather between June and September has also provided excellent conditions for the mammals to raise their young.
Paul Wilkinson, ecologist at the Canal & River Trust, explains: “This year has been a particularly great year for bats. Our sightings and checks of bat boxes have shown that there are far more than usual.”
Britain’s canal network hosts most of our 17 native bat species and are a great place for them to feed. For bats, canals are a cross between a supermarket and the M1, as they provide very important, safe and dark green corridors for them to travel along.
Paul explains: “At this time of year, bats are busy feeding up for the winter and mating, with males being particularly noisy as they defend areas and try to attract several females. Bats have always been mysterious, becoming active just as evening light disappears and we are drawing the curtains, they seem to appear from nowhere and then disappear without trace.”
However, if the warm weather continues into the winter this could have an adverse effect on these special mammals, as they won’t be able to hibernate properly. Bats need cold temperatures to maintain their deep sleep and interruptions from warmer weather means they use up valuable fat stores, leaving them vulnerable to starvation.
People in the Black Country are invited to join Paul on Friday 3rd October for a free opportunity to get up close and experience this special night time visitor. To join the bat walk, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The walk is between 7pm – 9pm on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Wolverley.