Saturday, 29 August 2015

Da da da da da da da da BATMAN!!!!

I've had a long-term interest in our native bats and this week I took a step nearer to learning more about them with the acquisition of a bat detector. I'd been thinking about it for ages and always been put off a bit by the price and confusing amount of information out there on the web but I finally found one I liked the look of and I have to say, I haven't been disappointed yet!

I went for an Echo Meter Touch by Wildlife Acoustics, a really neat little device not much bigger than a match box that plugs into the newer iPads and iPhones and, together with their App, can record and identify species live in the field (currently 25 European species as well as those for North America and the Neotropics). I'm sure it's not going to be 100% accurate all of the time but provided you get a clear recording of a bat on the move (rather than just emerging from its roost where the calls are different), it does have a very good success rate at identifying the species in question. I've also downloaded BatExplorer, a free piece of echo location ID software where I can import and double check the .wav files for species accuracy. Needless to say if you don't have an iPad or iPhone it would be prudent to look at other options as buying either one to use with this kit will rocket the price considerably.

So far I've recorded the following species from my garden at Whitestaunton:

Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus
Common noctule Nyctalus noctula
Serotine Eptesicus serotinus
Leisler's bat Nyctalus leisleri

It's surprising how quickly you get to recognise the calls coming through the speaker of the detector. The 'clip clop' sound of a passing Common noctule is not unlike a horse trotting up the road and pipistrelles are also distinctive. Five out of eighteen isn't a bad start and I have a feeling I'm going to be logging a lot of bat calls in lots of different habitats next year. Below is a recording of a Serotine made a few nights ago in the garden - it's only brief and I recommend turning the volume up a bit:

Serotine Eptesicus serotinus, Whitestaunton: 27 August, 2015

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