Today's letter to the Comet

Dear Surrey Comet,
I was disappointed with the lacklustre Comet article regarding the Seething Wells Filter Beds, Public Meeting that was held last Thursday. It didn’t capture the buzz or the passion in the audience, nor expound some of the very exciting news that has arisen from more thorough surveys undertaken by the company employed by the developers (who surveyed a larger area, for a longer period, during 2012). 

An entirely new bat species has been recorded for Kingston and one which is extremely rare nationally. This has been named as a Brandt’s bat by the surveyors, although technically it is very difficult to identify unless in the hand and more properly termed a bat of the Myotis genus, most likely a Brandt’s bat. This indicates that suitable foraging is found along this, the most darkest and most undisturbed stretch of the non-tidal river Thames in London. It raises the possibility of the species hibernating within the barge tunnel (along with two additional Myotis species also recorded here). Any web search will indicate that Myotis bats use tunnels for hibernating. 

In addition, an amazing count of 11 noctule bats, one of our largest species, was recorded foraging across the Filter Beds (as many of us have witnessed during the London Bat Group Batty Boat Trips). Even London Wetlands Centre records indicate, that in recent years only a maxima of two noctule bats exist foraging over the lagoons at any one time. This phenomena arises out of close proximity to a roost site, which has been known since 2007. This species has become rare in London over the last ten years, due to habitat loss and is something we should be proud of. 

A total of ten bat species has now been routinely recorded foraging or roosting at the Filter Beds and and the immediate river environs, which is the total number of bat species commonly encountered in the London region. There is no other site in the borough that can claim this amount of bat interest and there is yet more good news to be told. 

Alison Fure


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