Monday, 28 May 2012

bat boxes

I try not to be sidetracked. Stay focused. Work away at my lists.

But today I was away on a complete tangent.

We'd been finishing Rogers Chicken Palace and 'Eggery' and had left wood and offcuts untidily as we raced to finish after two days working in the hot sun.

So, I set to this morning, to tidy away ... and as I sorted the wood, noticed bits that would work well as bat boxes.

The 'kite' design of the bat box I was given by Jane jumped out at me as I found triangular pieces of wood. Hmmm. Useful.

And then other, narrow strips brought to mind Andy's simple design in which two pieces of wood, one long, one short are nailed together leaving a narrow, parallel compartment into which the bats can squeeze. Unlike bird boxes, bat boxes don't have opening lids. All bats are protected and it is illegal to enter their roosts.

As well as offcuts, I remembered that Roger had rescued battered old boards that must have once been used in the arcane world of mushroom production since our site was formerly a mushroom farm. These were 'pre-stressed' and needed none of the saw cuts required on smooth wood to enable the bats' little nails to gain purchase and scramble up inside the box. Although these boards look to have been treated, they had been stashed for so many years and most were so mouldy that I reasoned that no residues would remain that could harm the bats. Bat boxes have to be made from untreated wood.

So, having arrived bright and early, I got away at eight at night, but had made and sited seven bat boxes in our woodland garden and on the Lime trees that separate the orchard & vegetable garden and woodland garden.

I've sited two boxes on some trees, facing different angles because I know that bats are said to be highly sensitive to temperature changes and use some boxes as maternity units and others for roosting or hibernating. It is usual to nail the boxes to trees, but I avoid this as chainsaw chains and operatives are damaged by concealed nails! My boxes are secured with wire.

Cordwood isn't blessed with many bats as far as I can tell: we've seen two bats in seventeen months! Both were probably our tiny common pipistrelle: our bat detector registered echo location at 45 kHz during a 'survey' we did in June last year. Bats have different frequencies of echo location, and this allows the different species to be identified as they flitter in the twilight. The Cordwood trees are not native (natives attract the most insects which in turn attract the most bats) and have few of the crannies and crevices that are needed for bats to roost, over winter and breed. Providing bat boxes should at least remedy this latter deficiency and we hope that the work we're doing to plant insect friendly flowers and plants will remedy the former in the years ahead.

To complete my 'bat day' I mended my bat detector, so will now be able to listen to the sound of silence as the entire batch of boxes is completely disdained by any passing bats!!

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