Haigh Country Park near Wigan is a paradise for bats, with mature woodland and parkland, ponds, open grassland and canal all offering potential habitat. The woodlands are amazing with potential bat roost opportunities everywhere you look – woodpecker holes, rot holes, cracks, splits, standing dead wood, you name it. The site is near Wigan Flashes which are a known hotspot for foraging noctule bats, which usually roost in holes in trees, so South Lancs Bat Group suspected there might be noctule roosts in woodland at the Country Park. We gathered on a slightly chilly April night to find out what bats were doing.
The first bat of the night was a pipistrelle and we had common and soprano pips both out and about, albeit in low numbers. The fabled noctule put in an appearance – a single bat was spotted whizzing along the canal in the direction of Wigan Flashes, and shortly afterwards, coming straight back. Well, we like to think it was the same bat, and it had gone out only to find it rather chillier than expected and changed its mind ! It was also a moonlit night which can sometimes reduce bat activity because high light levels favour avian predators such as sparrowhawk and can reduce activity of prey species such as moths.
The final species of the night was a Myotis bat, probably a Daubenton’s, seen foraging around a bridge over the canal. We didn’t confirm any roosts but went home happy nonetheless.