Do the Flight Thing

Vicky inspects some deterioration in the plastic roof mesh of the flight - we have decided to go for a finer, less degradable mesh.

Big things are happening in 2013 at BrumBats.  We’re working on the new Batlas project, doing loads of events, establishing Walsall’s first Bat Box Scheme, and also taking on the nest step for us in our growing bat care network – we’re building a cage where injured and juvenile bats can learn (or re-learn) to fly, hunt on the wing and prepare for release back into the wild.

The flight at Stapely Grange includes bat boxes and hanging tiles for the bats, with gaps behind so the bats can access the internal shed.

A cage for bats for this purpose (basically, an aviary for bats) is known as a ‘Flight Cage’ (or just a ‘Flight’ for short!’).  We’re planning the project against the clock, as we have seven bats to release in the spring, and today we stepped up a gear as we visited our two nearest flight cages – RSPCA Stapeley Grange, and the Wildlife Trust’s Wolseley Centre.

When the bats are ready for release, their whole box is moved outside, so they can return to their 'home' for food and shelter if they wish.

We met Sarah, the incredibly dedicated RSPCA bat carer, who looks after all the 150 bats per year that Stapeley Grange get through their doors.  (I don’t even want to THINK about the amount of work their 600 swans a year create!)   After meeting a very tame fox, and getting a tour of the facilities, holding pens and aviaries they have on site, we were shown their bat flight.  Bat flights are usually dual-skinned – an interior mesh for the bats to cling to, and an outer chicken wire / mesh to ensure that birds of prey can’t pick the resting bats off the walls!  Sarah explained how, once the bats are flying well and ready for release, their bat box is moved to the outside of the flight, where the RSPCA continue to provide food for the bats until they are surviving on their own.  They have even radio tracked bats as they are released, and know that they tend to stay in the area for a while, before dispersing into the wider countryside.

The flight at Wolseley has a sand & gravel floor.  Our flight will have something similar, so it is free draining and easy to clean.

The BrumBats Flight team are meeting up again this weekend to start the building plans in earnest, so watch this space for updates!  If you’d like to contribute to the project, there will be loads of ways that you can help, by donating things like scented plants, hanging baskets, and more – we’ll be updating you in the very near future!  In the mean time, Bella & the girls, and Belfry & the boys are all doing well and overwintering with no problems – still eating loads and squabbling as usual – no doubt looking forward to spring just like I am!

– Morgan 🙂

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