The Beavers learning about bats
BATS evoke very mixed reactions in people from those who find them fascinating to others who recoil in horror at the mere mention of the only mammals that can fly.
There is a growing interest in discovering more about our night-time neighbours. Groups like An Taisce Living Limerick and Limerick Bat group hold regularly walks and talks that are helping people to understand the beautiful and complex lives of bats.
On a dry autumns evening a few weeks ago, Sean Hartigan from Living Limerick and Albert Nolan from Limerick Bat group visited the Tuesday Beavers section from the Murroe-Boher Scouts. The last time we were here a storm was ripping through the countryside. Thankfully the skies were quiet with all the energy and enthusiasm, coming from the beavers and their leaders.
We started inside with a discussion on bats. The Beavers discovered that we have nine resident species of bats in Ireland, and the names of the commonest species. Most communities have leisers, common/soprano pipistrelle and if there is still water nearby daubentons.
Bats eat up to 3,500 insects each night. While this might seem a lot, they use around half of the insect energy, just to keep themselves flying. Moths, beetles and flies are all eaten and when these disappear in late autumn the bats go into hibernation.
They find a cool snug and dry place and their heart rate slows down to a few beats a minute. Bats will wake a few times to go to the bathroom, but if they are disturbed to often, they will die in their sleep of starvation.
We suggested that the beavers could make bat boxes, and put them up around the community. This would be a great way of helping bats, as natural roosting locations are often scarce. A few of the Beavers were very knowledgeable and put myself and Sean to shame. It is brilliant to see young people with such an interest in bats.
Next we demonstrated how to use the bat detectors. These convert the inaudible calls of the bats, into sounds that we can here. The beavers soon discovered that the detectors can also be used to make a range of interesting sounds.
We headed out to the woods, just as it was getting dark. We had only gone a hundred meters, when the bats appeared. The path is sheltered by trees, and the bats were swooping above our heads. They were not trying to get into our hair, but were eating the insects flying above our heads.
The calls and feeding buzzes of the common and soprano pipistrelle, were loud and clear through the bat detectors. All of the beavers and leaders were really excited, and they dint realize how much nocturnal activity there is in their wood.
Of course that was not the only highlight, and a few deep muddy puddle provided great fun. I got in first followed by the kids, and we have to fish out a few wellies in the dark.
We also found lots of spiders, woodlice and the shaggy ink cap mushroom. Thanks to the leaders Charmaine Power, Tricia Kemp, Martin Madden, Colette Kett and Elke Hayes for coming out on the night and their commitment and dedication to the Scouts.
Also Limerick County Council and Limerick Bat group for use of their bat detectors.
Living Limerick: Growing native trees from seeds. Join us as we stratifying, macerate, extract and sow native tree seeds, (sounds complicated but its easy). Suitable for adults and children. Bring any native tree seeds you have collected and pots, used coffee cups, milk cartons etc to sow them in. Contact Sean Hartigan on 087 9168613 for more information. Friday, November 1 from 11am-1pm Broadford Arboretum.
Friday, November 1 from 2.30pm-4.30pm, Hazelwood College Dromcollogher, Saturday November 2 from 11am-1pm. Muintir Na Tíre Hall Murroe.
email@example.com or 089 4230502.