On the evening of August 12th, nine LadyBirds took a punt down the River Cam towards Grantchester meadows on a bat safari. Run by Scudamores, 50% of all ticket sales from these tours are donated to The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust.
Our tour was led by an expert from the Wildlife trust. In addition to telling us about the bats which nest in Cambridge and hunt along The River Cam, he brought with him several sonar detectors. Bats are the only mammals that use echolocation to navigate and hunt and the detectors allowed us to hear their unique sounds. We listened out for the pips and squeeks of the Soprano Pipistrelle and the Daubenton’s bat. Both are common in Cambridge (though are less common than other bats in England), and both are tiny and lightening fast. (The Pipistrelle is thumb sized with it’s wings folded!)
We were very lucky with our timing. We found out mid-August is actually the perfect time to go bat watching. The young have just been born and are out every evening accompanying their mothers. Although bats usually hunt alone, in addition to many individuals we also saw several groups of 2 or 3!
It was fascinating listening to the bats and watching them diving overhead and swooping along the water, and interesting to learn about their habits and life cycle. Many thanks to Gill LadyBird secretary extraordinaire for organising the trip. Although the safari was amazing, it was also just nice to have the opportunity to watch the sun set over the river with the LadyBirds and to spend time getting to know each other. I’ll be keeping my eye open for more opportunities for WI outings!
P.S. If you’d like to find out more about the Bat Safari, check out the Scudamores’ website.