This little stunner is Mollie, the first bat recorded as part of the bat box scheme at Martineau Gardens in Birmingham. If you haven’t discovered the site, you really must seek it out, as its an oasis of woodland and gardens a stone’s throw from Birmingham city centre. I actually used to work there as Biodiversity Officer, and as part of my job, I worked with volunteers to build and install 20 bat boxes in and around the site’s oak woodland. Yesterday we went back for the first time to check the bat boxes!
I met Rachel (@RachelDawnFryer) and Sam on site yesterday morning and we checked the bat boxes from the ground (or a ladder if visibility was obscured) using a torch, to see if there were any signs of bats, or indeed any bats present. Of the original 20 boxes, there were 15 still in place, and we walked around the woodland, checking them each in turn. By the time we came out of the woodland, we were somewhat disheartened as the 13 woodland boxes were all empty!
We decided (just to be thorough) to check the two boxes on the mast of the ‘shipwreck’ play area. I had originally put these two boxes up there as a talking point, and never would have expected bats to take up residents on the top of a pole in an open area, but clearly the bats are not reading the textbooks that tell them what habitat they should prefer, as we found four adult female Soprano Pipistrelles inside the north-facing box!
We decided to just take one bat out of the box as a representitive sample of the bats, as we wanted to minimise disturbance to the roost. The bat was the glorious blonde you can see at the top of the post, and we decided to name her Mollie (after Mollie Martineau, the patron of Martineau Gardens). Mollie showed signs of having reared a pup this year, and she weighed in at a reasonably hefty 6 grams, so it seems she is in fine condition to prepare to hibernate.After Mollie was weighed and photographed, Rachel then climbed up and returned her to the roost to join her roost-mates, who were distinctly nonplussed. So it was a successful day, and no doubt the first time that a bat has been extracted from the top of a pirate ship! We are looking forward to doing more bat box checks next week!