Tuesday, 06 August 2019 19:49

Boosting High Barnet’s bat population

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Dick Elms, vice chair of Barnet Environment Centre, with one of the bat boxes to be installed on the Byng Road nature reserve Dick Elms, vice chair of Barnet Environment Centre, with one of the bat boxes to be installed on the Byng Road nature reserve
Barnet Environment Centre is planning to install three bat boxes to help increase the biodiversity of the Byng Road nature reserve.

Common pipistrelle bats have been seen flying in and around the 7.5-acre reserve, but activists at the centre are keen to learn more about the local bat population and get advice from experts on where best to site bat boxes.

The centre is holding a bat event – already fully booked – on the evening of Saturday 14 September when experts using detectors will help determine the types of bats that are visiting the nature reserve.

When the centre held a 24-hour “bioblitz” of the reserve in 2012, common pipistrelles were identified as well as the rarer soprano pipistrelles.

“We do know that bats are regularly seen along the boundary between the nature reserve and Byng Road allotments,” said Dick Elms, vice chair of Friends of Barnet Environment Centre.

“Hopefully we will get much more information in September about where the bats are flying and find out if they are roosting or perhaps breeding within the nature reserve.

“We know that bats like to fly alongside rows of trees and hedges, and we think they might roost in the boundary oak trees, between the reserve and the allotments.

“We have three bat boxes which we are eager to install, where bats might be encouraged to breed in future. But the placing of the bat box is all important, as they have to face in an east to south direction, so that they warm up in the sunshine.

Over 1,800 children have visited the reserve in the last 12 months

“These eco-friendly bat boxes are made out of light concrete, and are extremely durable, so once installed would be long lasting and give protection against the weather.”

Mr Elms said the centre was always looking for ways to increase the biodiversity of the nature reserve.

Two months ago, two beehives were installed on the site by the Barnet Beekeepers Association.

“We are delighted to welcome back the beekeepers and they are promising to install another three or four hives in the autumn, so that should be a real boost.”

Yet again the centre was fully booked last term for school visits. Over 1,800 children have visited the reserve in the last 12 months.

Other recent events have included a dawn chorus walk in May when 27 bird species were identified.

Two of the six bird boxes installed on the reserve were found to be use by pairs of great tits.

Two more drop-in sessions for the local community are planned for the rest of the summer, Sunday 1 September (10am to 12 noon) and Saturday 21 September (1.30pm to 3.30pm), with an open afternoon on Sunday 22 September.

For more information and for opportunities to volunteer see the Barnet Environment Centre website, www.fobec.org.uk
For advice on bat boxes www.bats.org.uk

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