Chocolate cake and urine stains

Thursday was a busy day for us with two talks to do. The first took us to the Bedford Aphasia Society. The group were really welcoming and we were offered delicious home made cake. We also got to meet one of the owners of one of the hibernation sites we check every winter. The bat was put to work , but got fewer mealworms than she might have expected as we had a second date.

The Stoddon Churches are a group of churches in the North of Bedfordshire, an area which is somewhat understudied by the bat group. (We have no members presently that far north) Their rector had asked Bob t0 give a talk about bats as all six churches had bats in them.  We took the opportunity to visit them again earlier this year. Some of the church wardens are concerned about urine damage caused by the bats, Such a concern is understandable as the urine spatter bleaches wood. Current advice is to use a wax polish so that the urine cannot penetrate the wood. There are no easy solutions to the problem at present, but they were pleased to hear that there is research underway to try to find a better way of protecting church furniture, even though the results will not be out for several years

Urine damage on a lectuen Photo Bob Cornes

“Bats and churches

Bats, churches and the landscape: sustainable conservation of bats in the East of England, University of Bristol

In the early 1990’s BCT’s original Bats in Churches project estimated that 60% of pre-16th Century churches host bat roosts.  However, bat use of churches sometimes causes damage to historic artefacts, difficulties in maintaining structures and problems for church users.  SITA Trust and Natural England are funding BCT and the University of Bristol to conduct a PhD research study on soprano pipistrelles in East Anglian churches.  The project will seek to understand why bats are attracted to certain churches, how they use churches and the surrounding habitat throughout the year as well as why they select certain locations within churches to roost.  A regional survey will be undertaken to model the occurrence of bats in relation to church and habitat data. The research will involve radiotracking and studies of roost microclimate conditions. In a small number of churches, mitigation approaches will also be trialled. The study aims to reduce the impacts of bats and safeguard long-term conservation of bats and heritage.” BCT website


People were really interested and were much taken by the bat who was as charming as always. We spent a long time answering questions and chatting to people (and giving the bat the rest of her daily allowance of mealworms., taking the opportunity to eat some excellent home made cakes along the way). We are hoping to investigate Swineshead Wood next season and took details of several locals who would like to come along. Then, remembering to return the power supply, we headed back through the street light free night back down south.


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