LOOKING for bats in a wood in the dead of night might be some people’s worst nightmare, but a protection group has been doing just that.
Two years ago the Friends of Ruislip Woods Trust was given a grant of £1,000 by The Forestry Commission’s Community Grant Scheme to start a bat group.
The money was spent on detectors and survey equipment. With Hillingdon Council donating bat boxes, work began on protecting the creatures in their natural habitat.
“There are a lot of bats in Ruislip Woods and you do see them near the water and particularly in Park Wood,” explained Debbie Valman, secretary of the trust. “With the grant, we were able to buy a lot of bat detectors and boxes, and that is why we want to keep trying to arrange walks and surveys.
“A lot of work has been done to Poor’s Field [also known as Ruislip Common] by volunteers and it has been very naturally improved. That has made a big difference because it has increased the number of insects there and in turn increased the number of bats,” she said.
“We are noticing that the bats are moving into different places around the woods.”
The group arranges a bat walk each year the night before the Ruislip Woods Festival, which is on May 12 this year. It also goes on walks with members of The Bat Conservation Trust, who teach the volunteers how to use the detectors, carry out surveys and lead walks.
The conservation trust relies on the hard work of local bat groups across the country to protect the severe decline in bat populations.
John Randall, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and a keen naturalist, is supportive of the bat group.
“I am really delighted with the news that the trust’s bat group is going from strength to strength. We are very lucky in Hillingdon to have a great diversity of wildlife, including bats,” he said.
“Most naturalists including myself find bat identification very difficult so I welcome the initiative to get people to understand bats better.
“I have often wanted to learn more about bat detectors and hope I might be able to join in one of the sessions myself.”
? If you would like to get involved or find out more about the work the bat group is doing email Debbie Valman at firstname.lastname@example.org.