Sunday, 4 November 2012

Seething Wells: the best site in the borough for bats with a new bat species for Kingston


10 species of bat are now recorded at the the Filter Beds site and the adjacent river side. This is more than any site in the borough, with 5 the greatest number for a Kingston site (with the exception of Canbury Gardens and riverside). A Myotis bat with the call characteristics of a Brandt's bat, was recorded along the river wall during the developers surveys. This is the first ever record of this species for the borough.

The ten bat species now recorded at the site are as follows:

Pipistrelle bats: all 3 of the following pipistrelle species were recorded during the surveys by EDP (acting for Hydro Properties):

Pipistrelle bats are found wherever there is connecting local green space and there are  some large soprano pipistrelle roosts in Surbiton. Early registrations of this species are  associated with the northernmost  Filter Bed, and  includes occasional use of the small pumping station at Seething Wells, which the consultants do not  accept as a roost location. The London Bat group trainer has written a letter to RBK Planning Authority to confirm the sighting of bats exiting their winter roost. 

This year common pipistrelles were recorded exiting their winter roost at the pumping station as usual. They appear to enter the wharf site reasonably early in the evening and have a strong presence opposite the university buildings.

Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat, described as very rare in the UK, has had a long association with Seething Wells, first recorded by Pete Guest and myself (2001). By 2006, there was a mini explosion of records along the river and also at Ditton Fields, Kingston Town Centre and Canbury Garden’s (mating roosts and song flighting) although this has been variable recently. It is good to see that there was a registration at the FB's during the current survey programme. 

Noctule bat 
Recorded during the surveys by EDP. Noctule bats are now considered rare in London and are overwhelmingly associated with Seething Wells. They are also recorded at Ditton Fields, Canbury Gardens and the river Thames. During the surveys EDP note that there were 11 noctules at the FB’s. Briggs et al London Naturalist paper 2007 states 'trends published indicate a decline in noctule activity, both at the Wetlands site and at the wider London scale from NBMP surveys, the latter being statistically significant'. Nowadays one or two noctules are recorded at any one time at the London Wetlands Centre (P. Briggs, pers comm, 2012). To conclude: 11 noctules were recorded at the Filter beds (EDP 2012) with a maximum of 2 at the Wetlands Centre, 2012. This is consistent with the annual London Batty Boat Trip (BBT) sightings, particularly during 2011, when many bats appeared foraging low over the boat during wet weather. 

Leisler’s bats 
Recorded during the surveys by EDP, 2012. Leisler’ bat is considered ‘very rare’ nationally (Natural England). This species is recorded annually at Seething Wells, Canbury Gardens and the river Thames during the annual London BBT’s.  South-west London is a stronghold for this species which may be occupying niches vacated by the closely related noctule bat. 

Daubenton’s bat 
Recorded during the surveys by EDP, although the numbers of bats have dropped substantially this year. Daubenton’s Bat is considered uncommon and declining in the London Region. They as been recorded at Seething Wells, Canbury Gardens and the river; near the difluence of the Hogsmill and Bonesgate stream (2006); at Mill Street (2005, 2007).  For more information on the status of the roost please visit Benton

Natterer’s bat (not recorded during the EDP surveys but always present on the London Bat Group BBT surveys).
Natterer’s bats are uncommon in the London Region. A colony was recorded at Fishponds (2003); Canbury Garden’s (2004); final sections of the Hogsmill; Seething Wells, river Thames and Barge Walk. They are usually recorded along Barge Walk opposite Seething Wells, as this is the only dark location along the whole of the non-tidal river Thames in Greater London. They have also been recorded using the Wharf at Seething Wells and for this reason I would ask that the Anabat recordings made at FB 1 and 2, should be checked as a matter of priority to see if they could pertain to those of Natterer’s bat. Roosting is suspected at the site, although this cs difficult to prove due to their late emergence. Filter Beds 1 & 2 are considered suboptimal habitat for foraging Daubenton’s bat  as there is very little open water, unless they were feeding vertically to the ‘water column’ I would ask that the possibility of foraging Natterer’s bat be considered. 

Brandts Bat Recorded during the surveys by EDP
Whiskered/ Brandts/ Alcathoe bats are rare. They have only been recorded in the London Borough of Richmond and one other borough (outside of hibernation sites). A roost of Whiskered/Brandts/Alcathoe bats is known 1,000m to the south-west of Seething Wells and the FB’s must be considered a possible hibernation site for this species. This is the first record of this species for RBK. The recording made by EDP conforms to the characteristics described in S. Sowler's Anabat sections in Jon Russ, 2012. However, it is advised that it should be described as a "Myotis with characteristics of Brandt's bat", given that Myotis call characteristics may be determined by habitat as well as species and we cannot be certain that the identification is correct. Further examples of this species  may turn up during  analysis of the BBT's 2012, over the winter months. 

Serotine bat: recorded during the surveys by EDP
Serotine bat is considered rare in the London region. This species is currently recorded in low numbers at Seething Wells, Canbury Garden’s and the river Thames. Formerly they were known at Surbiton and Worcester Park Sewage Works, although this is no longer the case. 





Brown long eared bats 
Not recorded during the EDP surveys but this species has been previously recorded here and the site is surrounded by records pertaining to  this pretty bat. Brown long eared bats are considered rare in the London region but common in the wooded counties of Surrey and Kent. They are recorded at Ditton Fields, Seething Wells and two closely related sites and as they hibernate in tunnels, the barge tunnel is a likely hibernation site for them.


Brown long eared bat

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