After this year, I almost feel like an old hand at harp trapping. It now seems quite normal to be sat out in the dark on a camp chair drinking coffee and chatting, with periodic excursions into the blackness to see whether the traps had caught anything. I’m going to miss this over the winter 😦
In October, South Lancs Bat Group crammed in as many trapping dates as we could in the hope of catching Nathusius pipistrelles at as many sites as possible. When Nathusius pips were first recorded in the UK, it was thought that they were migrating over here seasonally from the continent, perhaps on their way somewhere else, or to use hibernation sites here – we just didn’t know. Now that we know they are resident here all year round and, indeed, breeding in the UK, our views on their seasonal ecology have changed, but the autumn season is still seen as one of the best times to catch them out and about.As work had quietened down a bit by October, I was able to attend trapping nights at Marbury Country Park, Pennington Flash, Rumworth Lodge and Pickmere – all of these sites are lakes with woodland and/or reedbed around the edges, which is thought to be a favourite habitat for Nathusius pips.
Here’s Steve checking the lure on a harp trap deployed at Pickmere. Yes, that is practically in the lake. In fact, Helen and I actually carried the trap through the water to get it into that position and there is a stream running between the two sets of trap legs!
Admittedly, we didn’t actually catch anything at Pickmere but it was still a good night out with friends, if slightly different from the usual pub-based gameplan… Rumworth Lodge was also pretty quiet. We always get something at Marbury, this time a soprano pip and a brown long-eared.
It’s all worth it when you catch what you’re looking for though. At Pennington Flash, we braved nocturnal joggers, random dog walkers and unusual activity in the car park (!) to catch a single bat. This bat:
This is officially the best bat of 2014, because it’s the first Nathusius pipistrelle we caught in our own home area of South Lancashire during the trapping. All of the others had been in Cheshire!