Bat Walk Hanworth Park House

When a bat walk was advertised as an event taking place in the grounds of  this intriguing building, it was impossible to resist. Hanworth Park House dates back to 1802, wings and a clock tower were added in the early Victorian period. This mansion replaced a Tudor building, burnt down several years earlier, that had been used a hunting lodge by Henry VIII to access Hounslow Heath.

The House became a military Hospital during the First World War. It was bought by the Whitehead Aircraft Company during WWI, factories were built along the north side of the park for the production of the Sopwith Pup fighter plane with the park used as an airfield. It became an old people’s home run by the London Borough of Hounslow; a Grade 2 Listed Building now on the Buildings at Risk Register. Read more about the setting

The activity was slow at first, with the bat detectors registering the odd pipistrelle bat around the grounds. A few larger bat species namely, the Nyctalus bats Noctules and the occasional Leisler's, flew overhead. However, once returning to the courtyard area by the clock tower it was apparent that this was a favoured foraging area for Serotine bats. Within a short time the bat detector had registered the following:

  1. - Serotine bat 48 passes from 21.42 
  2. - Noctule bat 10 passes from 21.19
  3. - Leisler's bat 3 passes from 21.32
  4. - Common Pipistrelle bat from 21.12
  5. - Soprano Pipistrelle bat from 21.19 

AGC Property and Hounslow council currently have a hybrid planning application before the Mayor see 01359-F-P9 This is a full application for the restoration, conversion and extension of Hanworth Park House with the loss of Greenbelt, 1.9 ha woodland and a lot of trees.  With some  community use of the house, one residential home for caretaker and office uses with associated highway improvements; and an outline application with all matters reserved except access for up to 300 residential homes, car and cycle parking, landscaping, restoration and enhancement of adjacent woodland for public use and associated works. The officers report has a full 6 lines under the heading of biodiversity

The ecological survey indicates small pipistrelle roosts and a lot of Brown Long - eared bat activity associated with the building, but there is no investigation into the way six species of bat are using the area as a foraging resource. How will the loss of trees and increase in the urban gradient and light pollution affect the prey  and therefore viability of these species. What will be the impact in the wider area, such as Pevensey Road LNR and the old Marshalling Yards?

Yet another paper has been published this year on the global-scale decline of animal biodiversity (‘defaunation’). The authors C. Finn, F. Grattarola, & D. Pincheira-Donoso state ‘Our study contributes a further signal indicating that global biodiversity is entering a mass extinction, with ecosystem heterogeneity and functioning, biodiversity persistence, and human well-being under increasing threat’. 

One of the stings is that the authors state that 'quantification of this extinction crisis has traditionally relied on the use of IUCN Red List conservation categories assigned to each assessed species'.  

'Importantly, we find that for species currently classed by the IUCN Red List as ‘non-threatened’, 33% are declining'. see here Anthropocene extinctions


Most viewed

Heritage Trees part 2: street trees.

Fishing the Hogsmill

Seething Wells: they've done it again