Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pipistrelles' Voices, A Small Red Damselfly, Look What I Got A Piccy Of, And Ted And Poppy By The Fire

While closing the curtains last night after lighting the fire to make the room cosy against the suddenly lowering temperatures of another hot day, I happened to glance up and see one of our two resident Pipistrelles momentarily freeze-framed against the indigo sky.

I got the bat detector out and slipped out with the dogs to listen to the bat talking. I was greeted with an instant rush of ticker ticker ticker as the bat sent out his quicksilver signals to locate supper. A second later I had a Bright Spark Moment, and rushed back in to grab the video camera so you could have a listen too. If you look carefully you'll be able to see him zooming about above me.



Bats talk at different frequencies, but all of them are too high for people ears to pick up. The detector converts the echolocation ultrasound produced by the bats into audible frequencies. 

There are 17 bat species in the UK so by tuning in to a certain range you are (usually) able to differentiate between them, although this does take some practice. As well as having different frequencies, different species also sound different. The Daubentons (water-loving bats whom I survey for the Bat Conservancy Trust each summer down by the river) have a call that sounds a little like peas hitting a window, or a low grade machine gun rattle. Pips, on the other hand, tick away in an up and down melodious sort of song. 

There are three species of Pip, only recently distinguished from one another- Nathusius is found at 39 kHz, Common Pips at 45 kHz and Sopranos at 55 kHz. I am fairly certain our bats are Common Pips. They have a roost in the house and have been there since we moved in several years ago.

Our roost is almost certainly a 'batchelor' (get it?) pad, with two males nesting together. The other type of roost is a Nursery roost, and you can get hundreds of mummies and babies in those.

There is a lot of nonsense talked about bats: they'll get stuck in your hair, they suck your blood, they are scary and frightening etc. But the most ludicrous thing I ever heard said about them was by a parent to his ten year old son while we were on holiday last summer. The bats were flying and I asked the kid if he wanted to hear them talking to each other. He looked eager (despite his teenage sister squealing 'urgh! Bats are horrible! They'll get tangled in my hair!'), and his father said: 'You know what bats are, don't you? They're birds without eyes.'

M, who was standing beside me at the time, said the look I gave the man could have withered fruit on a tree :o) I just about managed to correct the father without telling him he was a complete and utter idiot, and the boy and I then spent a happy few minutes listening to the Pips while his ridiculous sister wailed off into the house. How is it possible to not know what a bat is at the age of forty?

The ONLY time bats bump into people is when they are babies learning to fly. This is why you sometimes find them hanging upside down on curtains in the morning - the inexperienced youngsters have mistaken your open window for the entrance to their roost. Once night falls they will go back outside and hopefully sort themselves out.

Bats are protected by law- you need a license to handle them. They also do a very important pollination job. They don't want to get tangled up with you and in fact, their supreme ability to navigate in the dark means that they won't- they are far more agile at night than we are. I had a marvellously Close Encounter with an inquisitive Daubenton last summer- he flew right up in front of me and had a good look before twisting at the last possible second and disappearing over my head back to the water- I felt the wind of his wings as he went, but he never touched me. That wasn't accident: that was precision flying.

Love 'em :o)

I saw the first damselfly of the season yesterday, newly emerged because he/ she was a little sleepy. We get lots of Small Red Damsels here, so in the way of things you see all the time, I hadn't appreciated that they are on the Nationally Scare List. It is common to find them in large-ish groups in the few areas they do exist in, but because of the pocket nature of this they are very prone to local extinction. I must take good care to keep the ponds Just Right for them....



While I was oohing and ahhing over the Damsel, Pop had Great Fun stalking one of the pigeons. She was Very Clearly never going to get within an inch of it. The Irrepressible Optimism of youth, eh?


Teddy looked on with Patient Eyes and resisted the temptation to Join In...


The Apple Blossom is coming out...


And the patch of wild Bugle I've been gently cultivating at the top of the garden over the past couple of years is a haven for Common Carder Bees this Spring...



I had Afternoon Tea with CJ Sansom in the sunshine....


While Pop snoozed under the Apple Tree, recovering from her Pigeon Exertions....


While she was snoozing, and I Afternoon Teaing, several small white people with bright orange wing tips appeared and fluttered about the garden. I watched them but remained seated because it is a Well Known Fact that Orange Tips never land when they are near me. Imagine my utter astonishment therefore when one plonked himself down on the Honesty RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!

There was a dicey moment when the table, complete with afternoon tea, was very nearly upended in my haste to run to the kitchen, grab the camera and get back in time to take the photo. Miraculously, it remained upright with the tea intact and the flutter was still there when I got back.

The photo was rubbish, and the OT took off and headed for the patio. But I thought I knew where he was going so I set off in Hot Pursuit, with Poppy trying to trip me over in her eagerness to share the excitement without having a clue what it was all about.....


So there it is: One Orange Tip male in focus nectaring on the Cuckoo Flower (also known as Lady's Smock) grown purposefully with these little flutters in mind from a basal leaf of the one wild plant I found in the garden last year. Result! I am, by my calculations, a couple of weeks ahead of myself in terms of getting a decent OT pic than last year :o)

I have seen tens of OTs in the garden this spring, and walking down the lane with the dogs on Sunday discovered the probable cause- a whole flock of cuckoo flowers are growing along the banks with the OTs other favoured caterpillar food plant, Jack In The Hedge. 

Happy Days :o)

I'll leave you with some more flowers taken at flower-eye-level...



 ...and Two Cosy Dogs tucked up as close as close can be in front of the fire after our Bat Exertions last night.... Best Friends....




Hope all are well?

CT :o)


28 comments:

  1. We went for a walk yesterday afternoon and saw lots of orange tips. Well done on finally getting a photo-it's great. Last night I jumped out of the chair with excitement at some pipistrelles flying right up to the front window...I hoped they'd be about.
    A lovely post full of interesting things CT

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    1. I think the OTs are having a great season- I've seen many more than last year. So pleased you've got bats too :o)

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  2. I enjoyed listening to the bats and it seems we have the same species as each other with Pips in the garden and Daubenton's along the river.

    Exciting to see the first damselfly of the year whilst a super well-done in getting a pic of an OT. The garlic mustard & cuckooflowers are only just starting to come out here so hopefully we will have OT's soon :-)

    Kindest regards & best wishes :-)

    PS. I've posted a short video of our Yorks. dawn chorus on my ediary if you are interested :-)

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    1. Hi David. I'd love to listen to your dawn chorus, but not sure I've got the link to your ediary. Can you leave it for me in the comments, please? CT :o)

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  3. Soprano bats! Katherine Jenkins, or Tony? Mafia bats might be quite scary.

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  4. Never heard anything like it! How neat! I just love your two little dogs. Years ago I had a special little dog named Teddy.

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  5. Honestly, I love your blog so much. Always so interesting and informative. I'd never heard of Daubenton bats until now, and I didn't realise there were so many species resident here. We have one or two flying round at dusk occasionally, I could watch them for hours, they're so acrobatic. The orange tip photo is absolutely gorgeous. Well captured! My eldest and youngest have both (separately) seen an orange tip at school in the past few days. The youngest is always trying to catch crows at the park. I've got a bit of video showing him running about half a mile after one. I think it's laughing at him. Love the picture of Poppy and Ted squooshed up close together on their special cushion in front of the fire. Adorable. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks CJ, I am blushing :o)
      I am also smiling at the thought of your youngest chasing laughing crows for half a mile :o) Pop would have loved to help out with that. Squooshed is the best word I've heard in ages xx

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  6. I remember finding a young bat in a drain when I was little. I never knew they had different frequencies. Such amazing creatures.

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    1. They are fab. I am totally smitten with bats, as I am with most (all) wild things. Hope Canada is treating you kindly and the pigs are all well :o)

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  7. Interesting ainformationabout the Bats adnI just love the shots of the 2 dogs, soc ute togethe

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  8. *claps hands in glee* LOVED IT!
    I need a bat detector.
    The shot of the orange tip is marvellous too!
    And the furries...aaaah ..the furries XXXXX
    Jane x

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    1. You do. Canadian bats would be Very Interesting to listen to so I think you should get one immediately :o) The furries do make my heart melt when they sit squooshed (to use CJ's excellent word) up together like that. It almost makes up for all the times I've come home to find their bed eviscerated and the chair pillows chucked about the room! xx

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    2. PS Just posted groundhog pics
      Jane x

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    3. Ooh, I've seen! I want one :o) xx

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  9. Lovely post CT, must say our flowers and blossoms are a little behind yours, Apple no were near coming into flower, our Cherry tree is just about to flower...
    Amanda xx

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    1. Our Apple is just teetering on the brink of bursting forth. The little tree is a teeny bit ahead of the big one xx

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  10. Hey CT,
    I saw an orange tip at the weekend. And my first swallow. I also saw my first speckled woods. They are my favorite because they are so bolshie. I took a lovely picture of two of them together. I wasn't sure whether they were scrapping or flirting.
    When we first moved to this house, there were often bats flying at dusk. Unfortunately that stopped several years ago. Not sure why, but there has been a lot of hosing development locally, so maybe lost habitat etc? Lovely pics of both the butterfly and the damselfly. Usually when I go crashing into the house to find my camera I'm too late. And I always berate myself for not having it with me all the time. Because you just never know.
    Leanne xx

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    1. We've had swallows here too but no Speckled Woods yet and I have been peeling my eyes for them too :o)

      Sounds like the roosts got knackered when the houses were developed- wonder if the developers moved the bats elsewhere, it does happen under mitigation. xx

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  11. i always learn something new when i come here!!

    our bats have had a rough couple of years -- some sort of fungal infection has been wiping out colonies, i forget just now the name of it. anyway - we saw a few victims early last spring...the itch wakes them prematurely from hibernation then they come looking for food, which, as it's too early, isn't there.....horrible, horrible. attributed to chemical agricultural goings-on - not surprisingly. so our numbers have dropped since moving here. still, it's lovely to see them on a summer's evening.

    we had one caught between a window and its ill-fitting screen last year - it was a very delicate rescue operation but fabulous because we got to see it very closely through the glass while we tried to maneuver an exit for it. marvelous creatures, they are.

    gorgeous butterfly pic! wow! what a brilliantly marked wee beastie!

    i'd love for you to visit our pond in summer....it's a veritable smorgasbord of creatures, i can imagine you dashing about with your camera! we had a Very Keen Birding Fellow here a couple of years ago and he was positively foaming at the mouth....:)

    xo

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    1. I remember reading about the trouble Canadian bats are in last year. Poor things- let's hope a solution is found soon.

      I would love to visit your pond- would love to visit Canada full stop come to that! I bet you spend hours beside it watching and listening. xx

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  12. How much would you take for those two darlings. And do you think they would get along with two doxies????

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    1. I think they and the Barker Brothers would get on fabulously :o) I'm not sure I could cope without them though....

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x