When I saw a ‘Creatures of the Night’ evening advertised at RSPB Middleton Lakes, I thought I would sign up and pop along for the evening. Starting at 7.30pm, the evening including a wander around the woodland and lake areas with bat detectors to see what species could be found, followed by checking out some moth traps set up in the grounds.
The event was very well attended… full in fact, with over 30 people tuning out on a lovely warm evening, with the waning Autumn Moon making an appearance a few times through the light cloud.
Handing out a number of bat detectors, we set off through the grounds. I already have a bat detector, but for some (including a number of kids!) it was their first time with this great bit of kit. One of the best ways to tell bat species apart is by using a bat detector. Bats use high frequency calls, which are normally beyond the range of human hearing, to build up a sound picture of their surroundings. This echolocation system enables them to wing their way through the dark night hunting the tiniest of insects. A bat detector makes these echolocation calls audible to humans – and because different bat species hunt different prey and are different sizes, they make different calls which can help identify them. You simply turn the dial on the detector to pick up different frequencies of calls. The frequency identifies the species.
We picked up lots of pipistrelles and , as we moved closer to the water, be also detected quite a few Noctules. These emit a much slower and deeper sound on the detector and I have never picked these up before. I am used to hearing pipistrelles, but the Noctule sounds is completely different. We also think we got some Daubentons out hunting over the water.
A couple of toads on their nightly forays were discovered as well….
Then it was back to the moth traps; three in all, set in various locations. It is coming to the end of the most productive period of mothing, but there was still a lot of activity around the traps….
.. taking a closer look, there were LOADS of caddis flies, shield bugs, crane flies and a selection of moths, including Green carpet, Orange underwings, some Thorns, Sallow and Setaceous hebrew character (what a name!) to name a few (that I can remember!)There were also a number of huge hornets… amazing looking insects!
Finally, we checked out some of the trees, where some sweet mixtures had been painted on the bark…. no moths, but this leopard slug with some millipede friends had popped in for a snack!
A big thank you to the volunteers at Middleton for a very interesting an informative evening!