Summertime wildlife spectacles
With the days still pleasingly long, July is a wonderful time to enjoy being outdoors connecting with nature. Whilst you’re just as likely to need a brolly to ward off a shower or stormy downpour as you are a hat and sunblock, a day out in the countryside at this time of year can be packed with delights.
The sight of bright red poppies on disturbed ground, a walk through a wild flower meadow buzzing with butterflies before it is cut for hay or time spent dangling your feet in a cooling stream are amongst the joys of the British summer.
You can still enjoy the aerial acrobatics of swallows, swifts and martins and on warm evenings their presence may be replaced by that of agile bats swooping and turning in pursuit of their insect prey as the dusk arrives. Summer evenings are when bats are at their most active, and an impromptu bat watch is a great excuse to linger in the garden as the light fades.
Whilst a number of bat species have been recorded in built up areas the most common suburban bat is the pipistrelle. Whilst it may be difficult to tell them apart, any bats you see flitting overhead at this time of year may be very young bats only recently emerged from their maternity roosts. Pipistrelle females usually only rear a single pup. The these young will emerge from their roosts to take their first flight at around three weeks old which usually happens between late June and August.
If you are lucky enough to see bats flying over your garden this summer, it’s worth stopping to consider just how unpleasant it might be sitting out in the garden if there were no bats around. Even a tiny pipistrelle bat, weighing only as much as a twenty pence coin, can devour 3,000 insects a night.
As with many wild species, gardens are playing an increasingly import role in providing food, water and shelter for bats. There are many different ways you can make your garden more attractive to them such as by creating a pond, planting night scented flowers to attract insects, or installing a bat box.
If you would like to find out more about bats, then search out a special bat walk. You could take step further by investing in a bat detector which can pick up and translate bats’ echolocation calls, making them audible to humans.
Image: Swallows (Margaret Holland)