This is the second of a series of articles on the species mentioned in that plan that make Binfield their home. This species is definitely in the parish, but is quite hard to find – the noctule bat.
We are lucky in Binfield to be batty. Some of us see bats in our garden, and some of us see bats whilst walking around the village at sunset. It is most likely that the bats that we see are one of the two species of pipistrelles – common or soprano. They can often be seen flitting around streetlights or flying erratically silhouetted against the darkening sky.
There are another 15 species of bats that breed in the UK, approximately half of which have been recorded in Binfield. The particular species mentioned in the Bracknell Forest Biodiversity Action Plan is the noctule bat. Noctules are our largest bat, but would still fit in the palm of your hand. They fly high and direct, stooping on their insect prey, and are not the bats that we see around our street lights. They tend to be one of the first species to emerge at dusk, so if you see a bat flying high and direct over the fields around the village then there’s a good chance that it is a noctule.
Noctules prefer to nest in old trees and are a good indicator of mature woodland. They rarely use bat boxes. The action in the plan is to identify roosting sites, and we are pretty confident that there is at least one noctule roost in Binfield, and we will be working with the local bat group (http://www.berksbats.org.uk/) to see if we can find roosts.
One of the positive aspects of some of the new housing developments around the village is the proliferation of bat boxes. There will be at least 50 of these by the time the Blue Mountain development is complete and there is every chance that they will be used by Binfield’s pipistrelles. We are currently looking into ways that we can monitor the village’s bat boxes. However, all of the species of bats found in the UK are protected, and it is illegal to disturb them unless you hold the appropriate license.
Binfield Environment Group have a couple of bat detectors and would be happy to help you identify the bats that you get in your part of the village, or to lead bat-related events.