Last night fourteen of us headed over to Potton to visit the serotine roost. The house owners warned us that they had only seen one bat the night before, so we were resigned not to see many bats.
To entertain the bats most of us sat out of the way at the end of the lawn, while the catching team got themselves organised. We used two long handled nets ( serotines are well known for liking roofs with a high apex) and the team took it in turns to get aching arms.
Serotines are sneaky beasts and are very skilled at eluding capture. After we caught the first bat, we had to swop nets and they took this split second opportunity to sneak a couple of bats out. They did this every time and after an hour we had caught six bats but nine had escaped and flew victory circuits round the garden before swooping off along a nearby hedgerow
This roost has been part of a Ph.D. project ( See 2011-10-serotine ringing) and any bats we caught were ringed and had DNA samples taken.We returned to the roost in order to check whether any of the ringed bats had returned. Three of them had) We also took the opportunity to check the rings had not caused any wing damage. There was nos sign of any, nor of any scarring left from the wing punches.
In all nine bats escaped and we caught six. They were all female and three of them had been ringed previously. One was ringed as a juvenile last year. All the bats were in fine condition, though we did notice that they lighter than last year , suggesting that this bad weather has had an effect. We also checked wing length We could detect no sign of pregnancy in any of the bats. In difficult conditions bats can slow down fetal development and this may be what happened.
For many of those present, this was the first time they had seen serotines in the hand, and as a result there were a lot of very happy faces to be seen
We also took the opportunity of taking some photos. This was not always easy as some of the bats were very squirmy, (see the picture on the left)but we did get some good photos eventually
This bat on the other hand was more media friendly and sat still while her photo was taken.