Bats in Dartmouth Orchard!
Bats in the Orchard – a news post by volunteer Lydia Harvey
Greater Horseshoe Bats in Dartmouth
Surrounded by the stunning Devon countryside, the picturesque town of Dartmouth sits at the mouth of the River Dart. This popular little town is steeped in history and heritage, with plenty to do for everyone. Visit Dartmouth Castle or Agatha Christie’s holiday home, wander the pretty streets and visit the galleries or take the children crabbing.
Being located on the river makes Dartmouth the perfect spot for messing about on the river, with boat trips, sailing and kayaking all on offer. It is also home to the Britannia Royal Naval College, the only remaining Naval College in the country. An important roost of greater horseshoe bats is found in Dartmouth.
Dartmouth Community Orchard
Just up from the college is the Dartmouth Community Orchard. This 3.3 acre site is a haven for all kinds of wildlife, providing food, nesting and breeding habitats for Tawny Owls, woodpeckers and other birds as well as insects, fungi and of course bats.
Traditional orchards are perfect habitats for bats to use for foraging. The sheltered areas have an abundance of insect life, providing food for the bats. The spacing between the trees makes it easier for the greater horseshoe bat to navigate, giving the bat something for its call to bounce back from, allowing it to take advantage of the insect life in both the tree canopy and the underlying grassland.
Greater horseshoe bats have a high frequency call which is both quiet and directional. This means that that the sound disappears rapidly if it has nothing to bounce back from. As the trees are within a few metres of their feeding ground, the orchard provides plenty of grassland for them to forage in.
What better way to appreciate this lovely orchard than by having a summer picnic? Last May a picnic event took place in the orchard. Members of the public enjoyed games, learning about the bats and other wildlife that call the orchard home. They also enjoyed cakes and ice cream. A perfect summer day in a perfect summer setting!
Lydia Harvey – bat project volunteer