That was before I took a week-long break on a farm in Cumbria.
You may be thinking that a week on an isolated farm is the ideal place to get a bit of peace and quiet, and it is, but at certain times of day the converted barn that I was staying in was anything but silent as its resident swallows and bats made their presence felt.
I first noticed the bats on the first evening of my stay. I heard some scratching in the roof space above my bedroom so went outside to investigate. Sundown is quite late at this time of year in Cumbria, so it was 11pm - and still light - when I ventured out into the garden to find out what all the noise was about.
When I stood just below the eaves of the house, a squeaking noise could clearly be heard coming from the direction of the barn roof. Shortly afterwards a bat flew out from a space between the roof tiles at great speed! It was soon followed by another. And then another. And then another. When the count reached 18 I stopped counting but the bats did not stop coming. I reckon there must have been at least a thousand in there, sleeping all day, and flying out at dusk to feed on insects on the wing.
There are a few things everyone needs to know about bats.
All bats are protected
Bats do a lot of good in our environment. Over 500 species of plant rely on bats to pollinate their flowers. Bats are insectivores (they eat insects) and will eat thousands of insects every night, including blood-sucking mosquitoes. Bats also play a vital role in distributing seeds of trees and other plants.
Some bats are 'indicator species'. This means that changes in their population can mean that there are also changes happening in the biodiversity of their environment.
So bats are very special little creatures. In fact, they are a protected species in the UK.
According to the Bat Conservation Trust, you are committing a criminal offence if you:
1. Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
2. Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
3. Damage or destroy a bat roosting place (even if bats are not occupying the roost at the time)
4. Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat
5. Intentionally or recklessly obstruct access to a bat roost.
|One of the bats that was rescued|
Bats are precious, protected and we need them as much as they need us! But it so important to give them the right sort of help, so always, always contact the Bat Conservation Trust or a local vet if you come across a bat you think may be in need of help.