Residents had the chance to learn more about Streatham Common’s wildlife with the Autumn Bat Walk on Friday.
Environmental compliance officer Dr Iain Boulton led the walk to give visitors a chance to spot some of the flying creatures that are often difficult to see, as well as raising awareness for London parks.
Nature enthusiasts were given bat detectors, which convert ultrasound patterns into noises that the human ear can detect, to search for the bats in the wooded areas at the top of the Common.
Dr Boulton said: “It’s a nice way to spend an evening with a lot of other people having a good old search.
“In the same process you can also learn something about the bats, and you also hook people in to ecology.”
Friends of Streatham Common hosts nature events like this throughout the year, and has been running this particular walk for the past six years.
Parents Crispin and Anna brought along their children Timothy and Ted.
Ted said: “I think they’re really cute!”
They were referred to the event in an email from the Streatham Common Cooperative, and the family are keen to attend more nature events around Streatham in the future.
The event also succeeded in debunking common misconceptions about the animals, including the idiom ‘blind as a bat’.
Francesca said: “I did actually think bats were blind, I feel like that was a misconception that has now been corrected for me.”
Eighteen known bat species currently reside in the UK, but Streatham visitors were mainly on the look-out for a common bat known as a pipistrelle.
The small bat has a wingspan of 18-25cm and is found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.
The pipistrelle is not listed as an endangered species, but Dr Boulton is concerned that the yearly increase in temperatures could see their numbers start to decline.
Dr Boulton said: “They have probably seen climate change as a species for millions of years, but a hot summer can reduce the amount of available leaf cover.
“If the ground’s really dry all the insects have either shut down or gone somewhere else, so their food’s gone.”
Although bats hibernate through winter, seasons with an earlier sunset are prime time for spotting bats, so those interested should be on the lookout more walks across Lambeth in March and April.
Dr Boulton said: “Where people want it, and enjoy it, we’ll do it.”
Visit the website for info on more events happening on Streatham Common.
Feature image credit: Barracuda1983 CC BY-SA 3.0.
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