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Bats in the Honddu Valley

Posted: Sunday 19th August 2018 by Twheatear

High-frequency noises in the dark...

The Llantony Valley is an excellent place for bats, with records of nearly all the UK's resident species. A walk with local expert Steve Wadley lived up to that reputation.

Starting at dusk allowed us to practice with our bat detectors, and to see, as well as hear, the first emergence of pipistrelles, lesser horseshoe bats and a fast-flying noctule.

Walking down a hedge-lined lane after dark added the noisy serotine, navigating along the linear feature. A street lamp surrounded by a cloud of insects was clearly an excellent food source for two species of pipistrelles: distinguishable on the detectors as common and soprano based on the frequency of their echo-location calls. The next species flew underneath us: a daubenton's bat taking insects from the surface of the Honddu river under the footbridge.

All of these were identifiable by us amateurs. The lower edge of Strawberry Cottage Wood required professional experience and equipment to pick out leisler's, natterer, brandt's/whiskered (indistinguishable by sound) and brown long-eared from among the other species we had heard earlier. Ten species in half an hour is good: Steve's record for a single location is thirteen.

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