Continuing the series of guest blogs by our bat carers about their experiences caring for bats, meet Rachel Fryer, one of our newest bat carers:
I have been interested in bats since 2007 and have been attending batty events and carrying out surveys for a few years now. I attended my first bat care training day with Staffordshire Bat Group in 2011. Since then I have had little involvement in bat care.
My early experiences included collecting juvenile bats for another group which I’m a member of, the South East Staffordshire Bat Group in 2013. The first occasion being during one of my honours project bat surveys at a Natterer’s bat roost. At another roost nearby – a Soprano pipistrelle roost which I had identified and counted earlier in the season – two juvenile bats had appeared in the living space. Being “the bat lady” known on site, I was asked to help. It was not possible to return the bats to the roost immediately. So I remembered the advice given by bat carers and placed both bats in a ventilated box with a towel and small bowl of water. I then passed the bats onto another carer from the group with the intention of returning the bats to the roost ASAP. I was eager to hear how the bats were doing but unfortunately these bats and another which I collected, didn’t make it. I found this saddening and disappointing.
I had to consider if I am cut out for bat care. You need to be able to step back, and accept that bats will not always survive. But I also think that to be a carer you need to actually care. So there must be a balance between these two feelings.
I came to know Morgan Bowers well during my involvement with the Black Country and Staffordshire Naturalists group. Some events I help with include bat walks, surveys and bat box checks. I attended some further training with Brumbats; feeding bat pups. And attended a couple of bat releases; an attempted return of 2 juvenile bats to a maternity roost and the release of adult brown long-eared bat, Stella, at RAF Cosford in October 2013. It was a joy to hold Stella and see her fly away and become a wild bat again.
Since then I have over-wintered two Common pipistrelle bats; Kevin and Paul. Kevin was a juvenile found grounded and in a weak condition at the end of July 2013. Paul was an adult bat with a torn membrane. Both have been no trouble, roosting together and eating mealworms regularly. Kevin and Paul often vocalised while roosting together and I always wondered what they were saying! I think bat carers have the potential to learn a lot about bats, while also doing their bit to help.
Unfortunately I lost Kevin 27th January 2014 for unknown reasons. This saddened me again. I had a bit of a soft spot for Kevin as he seemed to be good natured. In reality, his less-feisty character may have been a hint that he wasn’t a strong bat. However, Paul is still going strong at 5.8g and as feisty as ever. He flew amazingly well during his two visits to the flight cage. It was great to see him doing so well but also lots of fun! I’m looking forward to seeing Paul soft released with other bats in spring this year. The day he decides to leave the bat box for independence, I will feel I have done my job.
I’m now looking forward to BrumBats ‘Introduction to bat care’ course in March to refresh my understanding and learn more.
If this blog has inspired you to get involved in bat care, take a look at our bat care pages or send me an email: email@example.com