In recognition of International Bat Night, Katie Prewett shares 10 fun facts about bats and why you should help give them a home.
With the night’s drawing in, why not make the most of wildlife after dark and get involved in International Bat Night this weekend.
This Saturday (29 August), as daylight turns to dusk, people all over the country will be taking part in torch-lit bat walks, talks and spooky celebrations as part of International Bat Night, an annual event organised by Eurobats.
The Bat Conservation Trust will be holding the fifth BatFest weekend in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London and, in Scotland, we're hosting a Bat and Moth night; all with the aim of spreading the word about the importance of these amazing creatures.
So how much do you really know about our nocturnal flying friends? To inspire you to take part in this year’s International Bat Weekend we’ve put together 10 fun facts* that are guaranteed to make you batty for bats:
At this time of year, young bats no longer rely on their mother’s milk and instead start to feed themselves by catching insects. Keep your eyes peeled this weekend as bats will be dispersing from the maternity colonies that they have been in all summer and going into autumn mating roosts.
The mating season begins in September so it’ll pay to listen carefully for purrs, clicks and buzzing - all special calls males will use to attract females. Some species of bat you’re likely to spot are natterer’s bat, lesser horseshoe bat, common pipistrelle and brown long-eared bat.
Bats play a very important role in the environment; they are important pollinators, pest controllers and seed dispersers, yet sadly numbers have declined dramatically over the last century.
To help give bats a home where you live, try putting up a bat box in your garden and buy some bat friendly plants. This will provide an excellent home for these nocturnal mammals and help in securing a future for bats and other wildlife.
For more information on how to Give Nature a Home, visit rspb.org.uk/homes
Hands up if you've seen a kingfisher recently!
Kingfishers can be seen along streams, rivers, canals and lakes - even in the middle of our biggest cities. They're perhaps our most colourful bird, but they can be tricky to spot...
If you've never seen a kingfisher, one thing you can do to improve your chances is to learn what they sound like.
Kingfishers like to call as they fly over the water - it's a high-pitched whistle. If you can learn to recognise that, you can be ready for when they zoom past you! Head to our kingfisher page to listen to a sound clip and find out more.
Have you noticed more moths in your garden recently? We certainly have here at The Lodge.
Our wildlife experts are getting more requests for help to identify different moths, many of which are most commonly seen on summer nights.
Here's a short guide to some of the more common examples you may see flitting around your garden at this time of year.
Moths are often seen as drab compared to their more colourful lepidopteran cousins, butterflies.
In fact, they're amazingly diverse in shape, size and design, with 2,500 species in the UK alone and an estimated 160,000 worldwide - many of which have yet to be formally identified.
So, don’t be too disheartened if the moth you spot is not featured below!
Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae)
Small magpie moth (Eurrhypara hortulata)
Hummingbird hawk moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)
Poplar hawk moth (Laothoe populi)
Garden tiger moth (Arctia caja)
Tell us what you see
As the above species show, moths are amazingly diverse in terms of their colour, size and shape. But they also provide a huge number of ecological benefits, from pollinating plants to feeding birds, bats and even people.
We’d love to hear more about the moths you see! Please leave a comment below or send us a tweet.
There are also a number of ways you can help give these marvellous mini-beasties a home, like growing food for moths or starting a wildflower meadow.
PS If you want to see which moths live in your garden, just leave the bathroom window open and a light on after dark. Alternatively, shine a torch on a white sheet at dusk and enjoy the show.