SWOG meeting, bat and moth evening

A big thanks to Rodney and Heather who hosted this very interesting and informative event at their wood near Northiam in East Sussex.

SWOG Meet Northiam
Gathering around the fire

Dave, one of the National Trust’s local Area Wardens, led a walk around the wood as dusk fell.  There was a chance to see some of the badger sets and rabbit warrens.  We learnt how to differentiate the more oval type excavation of the badger’s set from that of a rounder rabbit entrance, however Dave explained that quite often they will share accommodation, with rabbits using disused branches of the main set.  We found evidence of their latrines situated very sensibly a good discreet distance from the main sets.

Badger sets
The entrance to a badger set

We returned to the camp fire to enjoy some more of Heather’s delicious home made soup  and  talk about a bat’s favoured habitat.   Bats can wriggle into the tightest of spots, if you can squeeze your little finger into a gap then a bat could crawl in too.  This makes all the old cracked and gnarled standards with shattered limbs and woodpecker holes ideal habitat to attract bats.  They also like to use hedgerows and trees as highways and rarely deviate from their course.

Dusk in Longwood
Dusk approaching in Longwood

As it grew darker we turned on the ‘bat detector’ which can pick up the inaudible (to us) sound of the bat’s echolocation system of navigation.  However, it wasn’t really  ideal conditions,  the temperature fell quite quickly which would have slowed down the insect activity in the newly cut cant and hence the bats failed to turn up on cue.  A move down to the wood’s entrance and some more sheltered conditions soon brought the bat detector to life!

Meanwhile Jim,  a local and enthusiastic lepidopterist was setting up his equipment for catching and studying the local moth population, a bright lamp and funnel type arrangement leading to a holding area full of egg boxes was all that was needed!

Clouded Border moth
Clouded Border moth

It wasn’t long before a few moths had been attracted by the light and come to roost.  They find the nooks and crannies of  the egg boxes ideal, some like the Clouded Border above were trapped in small specimen jars for identification before being released unharmed.

So a big thank you once again to Rodney and Heather for hosting the event, Tracy for organising it, Dave and Jim for imparting their knowledge and enthusiasm and everyone else who turned up to make the evening a success.

Further resources