Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Eccleston Mere

Common Sandpiper 1 calling at 11pm during a bat walk around the mere this evening.
Mute Swan 2 adults
Swift 300

I've noticed that in the first part of the night at least, peak bat activity at Eccleston Mere is from about 30 minutes after sunset and for the next hour, after which it seems to drop away. So at the moment that's from about 22:00 to 23:00. I've not stayed overnight (so far!) and I've not been there before sunrise, so I don't know how those periods compare.

First bat tonight was a large Noctule, a fast flying species with intermitant glides. By the time we reached the southern end of the mere at about 22:20 there were several Noctules flying together about 8m over the water, and they were a pretty decent view through binoculars in the half light. Noctules tend to fly around the southern half of the mere from the stream outlet, around the southern shore and up the eastern shore up as far as the metal bridge. In a single night I might record 20 Noctules.

Because I follow the same route each evening at about the same time, I usually see the first Soprano Pipistrelle in the south west corner, but by the time I go home they're more or less all around the mere. Common Pipistrelle is also recorded all around the mere but is slightly less numerous. These two species are commoner than Noctule at the mere and they fly around the edges of the woodland and are small and fast flying.

Daubenton's is probably my favourite bat at the mere, and is perhaps the commonest. With a full moon glistening off the water, you can see them flying all over the mere, right out to the middle. They fly low over the water and often make it ripple as they glean insects off the surface, though they catch most of their prey in the air.

Perhaps there are other species, Serotine has been possibly recorded once, Brown long-eared is a probability, and more than likely Natterer's and Whiskered occur, but these species are difficult to identify with just bat detectors.

During the day there are hundreds of Swifts over the mere, and the scene is repeated at night, though the Swifts are replaced by bats. It wouldn't surprise me if there were at least as many bats over the mere at night as there are Swifts in the day. A truely magical sight.


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