Thursday, 17 March 2011

Bat Boxes on Chorlton Ees

You may have noticed some (slightly sinister looking!) black boxes on some of the trees on Chorlton Ees? These are bat boxes which we purchased with the money that we obtained from a council grant. The boxes are made of a substance called ‘woodcrete’ (literally a mixture of wood chippings and concrete). They are painted black to retain some heat from the sun.

The smaller boxes provide day-time roosting habitats for bats in our young woodlands which provide few natural roosting opportunities (i.e. the sorts of cracks, crevices and knot-holes which are found in old trees).

Four different designs of box are represented and we believe that these are suitable for the species of bat which have been recorded locally; these include Pipistrelles, Noctules and Daubenton’s bats. Although each box type is not specific to any particular bat species, those species listed above have been observed to show a preference for this range of box designs.

It is hoped that the larger boxes (particularly the flat ones) will accommodate female bats in maternity roosts. Such roosts can contain up to 40 bats plus young.

The boxes were erected by local members of the Bat Conservation Trust who are licensed to work with bats and are insured to climb trees; we are grateful to them for their help (I’m glad that it wasn’t me who had to climb the trees!). The Trust members are planning to re-visit in the autumn of this year to see if any bats have decided to take up residence (this may not happen immediately and we will have to be patient).

Traditionally bats have roosted in old buildings and old trees but these are both disappearing from our urban and urban fringe landscapes. Already this year various agencies have been savagely massacring what few old trees we have left. The construction of the new Metrolink lines, by contractors working for GMPTE, has seen the loss of many older trees with many more to come (their feeble and pathetic promises to plant trees to replace those they cut down are completely empty; a few ‘lollipops’ are no substitute for biodiverse old trees!). I am also getting reports that the Environment Agency has massacred around 20 mature trees on the river bank at West Didsbury – but I haven’t been to check this out yet. In addition the inhabitants of Whalley Range have managed to save some of their old trees from the Council but for how long, I don’t know; once they get an idea in their heads they won’t let a few voting, council taxpaying ‘tree huggers’, or concerns about wildlife, stand in their way.

Naturally we are grateful to the Council for supplying us with grants for things like bat boxes but we wish that they would also do much more for our local biodiversity. Taking wildlife more seriously would be a start as would ‘getting a grip’ on the various agencies who insist on getting their chainsaws and JCBs out every spring so that they can destroy everything in sight!

Dave Bishop & Richard Gardner, March 2011

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