Longframlington Gardening Club, June meeting

BATTY FOR BATS: At the June meeting of Longframlington Gardening Club, Matt Hadden’s enthusiasm for bats found a ready response in his audience.

His talk was very informative, covering all aspects of the subject, with particular reference to Northumberland. We learned of places where we could be sure of seeing some at the right time of day (Wylam Bridge being one) and why there are relatively few in Longframlington.

Aerial photographs showed our lack of the feeding corridors formed by parallel rows of trees necessary for the bats as they fly in search of insects, and we were reminded of our windy situation unsuited to their lightweight bodies. Other parts of the county are more bat-friendly, fortunately, and we saw how Belsay quarry garden suits them, providing habitats for every kind of British bat.

Details were given of all these British bats, their different sizes, their feeding habits and where they live. The Daubenton’s bat, for example needs to be near water and the pipistrelle is often seen in towns and cities. We saw pictures of barns, churches, bridges and houses where there are bat colonies and heard how they find their way by echolocation, though they are not, as is popularly supposed, blind.

Though these are creatures which have often had a bad reputation, Mr Hadden encouraged us to help in their preservation, telling us what to plant in our gardens to attract insects. As each female has only one baby a year, it is easy to appreciate that they can quickly be endangered if circumstances are against them. People have been their greatest predators. That is why they are now a protected species and it is illegal to destroy them or disturb them.

If we needed further persuasion to share Mr Hadden’s love for bats it came when he showed us two he had brought. The pipistrelle was, alas, a dead one but it did enable us to examine it closely. The long-eared bat, which had been rescued, was expected to be released to its original habitat shortly.

The summer meetings will be visits to gardens. On September 9 in the Memorial Hall, Mike Dale will speak about growing alpines.