The long autumn nights are fast approaching, but it's not all doom and gloom. This time of year is the perfect opportunity to watch bats flying at dawn and dusk.
With approximately 1300 species globally, bats make up 1 in 5 of all mammals worldwide! In the UK, we have 18 native species of bat, 10 of which you can find in Milton Keynes. All of our native bat species are insectivores, feeding on up to 3,000 insects in just one night! Throughout the Autumn months, bats are busy breeding and foraging, building up fat stores to help them survive the cold winter months. As the temperature drops, bats enter a state of torpor, lowering their body temperature and slowing their metabolic rate, allowing them to conserve energy and survive on their limited fat stores. Bats will hibernate in small nooks and crannies in trees, built structures and underground sites, seeking out roosts that maintain a constant, cool temperature throughout the winter months.
If you want to encourage bats into your garden, think about planting some night scented flowers such as Lavender, Marjoram and Honeysuckle - these will attract insects and in turn bats. All of our native bat species are European Protected Species. Bats, their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law due to the dramatic declines seen across all species in the last century. By making your garden bat friendly you are helping to provide a vital habitat for these fantastic flying creatures! Go to the Bat Conservation Trust website for more tips on how you can help support our native bats.
Before the nights draw in and the bats tuck themselves up in roosts for the winter, see if you can watch them foraging in your garden, along the river or canal or in your local park. They’ll be most active on warm, dry days around sunset or sunrise, darting around on the hunt for insects.