Thursday, 22 August 2013

New visitor

Went into the barn earlier this week to start up the ride-on mower. There was a flutter in the rafters. I called Niall and we had a closer look. It turned out to be a much larger bat than the tiny pipestrelles we have roosting behind the shutters. This one was hanging upside down from one of the battens in 'classic' bat manner. Hoping it would stay put Niall went and got the camera. It did, and started to do a quick clean as it was obviously wide awake. The photo isn't great as I couldn't use flash and had to rely on low light setting, but meet our new bat.

New visitor in the barn
We did some checking on the internet and think it is a greater horseshoe - going by the ears and the curved nose shape which gives the horseshoe its name and its size; but please let us know if we've got it wrong. There's no way one can start a ride-on mower quietly, but I did back it out as fast as I could and headed out to mow!
Looking roughly south from a sunny open spot to the east of the house
Looking north-ish from about the same spot -- one of the paths
With the hot sunny weather we've been having recently the grass hasn't grown as quickly so cutting it isn't quite a weekly job, more every ten days or so and we don't mow it too short. We have 2 1/2 acres of 'green' [can't call it lawn, it's too full of other assorted weedy "stuff"] dotted with a variety of different trees. We counted them once and we have about 15 different species. 
Looking towards the SE corner of our 'parc'
It's what the French call a 'parc' and slaloming in and out of the trees on the mower keeps your arms fit! This year with the very wet spring/early summer we couldn't get out to mow very often and with all the rain the grass grew like crazy and went the greenest it had been for years. It was as if the clouds had poured on a dose of 'super grow'. As a result, we could only mow when there was a small window of opportunity and all too often we couldn't get round to all of it [prob. about a good 4hrs for the whole]. Therefore, we decided to leave sectors wild and un-cut, and create paths through to the mown areas. We feel this has worked really well and hopefully has benefitted the wild life too. In fact, we might do the same next year, but with different parcels. In the autumn we'll give all the un-cut areas a good mow so that they too are short going into the winter.

19 comments:

the fly in the web said...

A super new guest...I don't know enough about bats to know what it is - but I like the look of it.

The idea of uncut grass areas is good too...we had those in one section of the garden and apart from benefits to wildlife it broke up the expanse of mown grass which failed miserably to look like a classic English lawn.

rusty duck said...

Like the idea of a 'meadow' too. Oh how I wish our land was so flat!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - So do we! It's the species of bat that in winter, when roosting, wraps itself in its wings in true 'Count Dracula' fashion [assuming we've identified it correctly!]
Whatever it is it is using the barn as a summer roost.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@rusty duck - all due to circumstance but we really like it and the benefits it offers to wildlife so we'll do it again next year.

It's not flat when you drive over it with the ride-on mower! But I take your point, we're at the top of a ridge.

Vera said...

We still have not used our lawn mower at all! Scythed what needed to be walked over, left the rest, which looked very attractive but now doesn't. Will do the same as yourselves, and that is mow everything down and start again next spring! Lovely bat.

MorningAJ said...

How cool is that! I'm super-jealous of your bat. We don't really have anywhere that's bat-friendly, though I noticed the shed door is not as good a fit as it used to be so there's a chance small ones would be able to get in soon. I don't plan to mend it.

ladybird said...

Tonight is 'Bat watching night' in Belgium. I wonder whether it is a local or an international event! Have you heard of anything similar in France? Martine

Niall & Antoinette said...

@vera - it is looking a bit tatty in places so we have already mown down a few smaller areas.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@AJ - we didn't think inbetween shutters and wall would be bat friendly. But it's a summer roost for a few visiting pipestrelles.

So who knows they might like your shed too!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - what a great idea. Are you going out to watch?

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We only have the little pipestrelles here, or I think so. Interesting photo, well done. Have a good weekend, Diane

Vagabonde said...

I have never seen a bat apart from a zoo – I hope it stays there for you. You do have a lot of grass to cut. I looked at your Tour de France post – how wonderful to be close enough to see all the riders go by.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vagabonde - we hope he does too and the ride-on mower is currently living elsewhere to encourage it to keep using the barn.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - we hope the horseshoe stays a while. We find the pipestrelles are very endearing tucked in behind the shutters.

Tim said...

Your bat is great! Looks like a Horseshoe to me too... probably Greater [although the Lesser occurs around here]...
your garden is the perfect hunting habitat for it, so it might have been around a while...
or it might just be passing through.
They cover vast distances to feed, breed and hibernate...
you never know, this might be one that Susan has counted in its cave winter roost at Chaumussay.

To attract more bats, build some bat boxes [like a bird box... but with a slit at the back... not a hole at the front! I've got some designs here if you want to have a go!!]

In answer to Martine...
This is European Bat Weekend and there was an event at Chinon for this area organized by the staff of the Parc National Loire Anjou Touraine...
so, yes, it is a Europe-wide event...
there was also something organised yesterday up at Montlouis...
just too far, both, for an evening event!!

Many bat species are threatened with extinction...
through change in land use, destruction of roosts, use of timber treatments that poison them as they roost... et cetera!
But bat boxes, like those I mentioned above...
are cheap...
easy to build...
inconspicuous...
and, above all...
a life saver!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - thanks we might well have a go at bat boxes.

We'd like something for the pipestrelles. They are a bit vulnerable between shutter and wall but have at least learnt to go higher where they are less within reach of curious cat paws!

Tim said...

Forgot to say... always use untreated wood for bat boxes!!

Perpetua said...

I love your bat, but am too ignorant about them to help with identification. We never see our French bats except on the wing and at dusk.

Your parc is gorgeous. I've often wondered how people cope with a whole hectare of land to care for and this way sounds really good. I know what you mean about calling it your 'green', though. Lawn it isn't!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - No it most certainly isn't!!

Some of the sections we left have been a disappointment in so far as they seem to have offered little but rankish grass and no flowers; others have been better.