This was my first experience of completing two dusk/dawn bat surveys back to back. Something that my new colleagues have hinted, with the amusement of people used to something that they remember being hard at first, would leave me exhausted. After my fox encounter in Liverpool I returned home to pack a new over night bag and caught a train to
Stoke where I waited as instructed to be picked up by Chloe in, as she had described it, her little purple car. We arrived at our hotel, Ternhill Farm House in time to drop off our stuff and head to the site which was a shame because dinner there smelt delicious and there was a cute little dog in the hall. The site was a relatively small area of brown field land with a run down building on one side.
We set up an Anabat recording in the shed as it was a suspected feeding site for Brown Long Eared Bats. Inside were many discarded wings of butterflies. Bats don’t like the wings. We cleared them away so we could see if there were any more the next day, so adding more information to the survey. We positioned ourselves such that we had the whole building covered and observed it as the sun went down and the site became dark. I attracted a cloud of midges above my head.
Chloe didn’t have any above her head. I tried wafting mine away with my weather-writer but they returned immediately I stopped wafting so I gave up and learned to live with them. By 11pm I had several entries on my survey sheet.
I had a comfortable couple of hours sleep at the hotel then headed out as quietly as possible in a converted barn with bare floor boards, to the second site where I stood watching a lime tree while the sky turned from navy blue to sky blue behind it.
Over breakfast I picked Chloe’s brains about moth trapping of which I had heard she had a hobby in. It’s something I’d dearly like to try but have my mottephobic wife’s nerves to consider. Then we headed back to the first site to gather up the Anabat and check for new butterfly wings. None this time, but I did get to see some blue fleabane (Erigeron acer) which was new to me and growing along with a variety of other plants which were dotted about in the gravel like a hastily constructed show garden of wild flowers.
Job done we headed home, Chloe dropping me off in Stoke to catch a train home to Manchester. I was spaced out and cotton-wool brained, but that’s fine. I think I can do this. I have plenty of practice coming up.