Saturday, 15 October 2011

Seething Wells: Daubenton's bats

Daubenton's roost distribution London Bat Group 2011.
Knowledge of a roost location is usually kept ‘secret’. However, the Daubenton's maternity colony at Seething Wells has become widely known and why not, it is something we should celebrate. What hasn't been publicised is the rarity of Daubenton's colonies in London. The distribution map indicates known Daubenton's roosts within the London Region, recorded within the last 5 years. These are marked by the grey dots of which there are only 4.The black dots are the numbers of Daubenton's roosts known in the last ten years swelling the total to nine. The red dots indicate all the roosts we have ever known since we began recording. The blue dots equate to all flying records and the open water habitats where this bat is found. Daubenton's bats require very specific habitat requirements.



Daubenton's bat
Daubenton’s bats are closely associated with water and this species is known for its habit of foraging close to the surface of ponds and rivers. It’s favoured feeding method to pick prey off a smooth water surface and so fast flowing streams. Water dominated by surface vegetation or sites exposed to wind disturbance are generally avoided and it is during bad weather that the Filter Beds have been particularly important for our resident colony. At different times of the year Daubenton's bats seek different parts of the waterworks site. As they do not wish to wake  from thier 'torpor' during winter cold snaps, they move to colder parts of the site. Waking during cold periods depletes their energy store and there is no insect prey when temperatures fall below 6 degrees or so. This species requires a range of opportunities within an area in order to remain at Favourable Conservation Status. Light pollution is an issue for this bat, which emerges later in the evening than most other bat species recorded.European Law protects the not only the bat and its roost but also the habitat of a maternity colony. It could be argued that draining of the Filter Beds was not in accordance with the spirit of the Habitats Regulations.

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