MP goes bat-spotting

October 10, 2011 5:02 PM

Local MP Tom Brake took part in the last bat walk of the year last Wednesday, 5th October, showing his interest in both nature and conservation of the local area.

As part of a conservation and education project run by the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers (SNCV), guided tours were given of Cheam Park, where evidently there is a large bat population. Tom attended the event, and expressed his surprise at the numbers of bats he saw: "it was an excellent tour. As with most people, I was unaware of the huge numbers of bats that live in our parks throughout the country. I'm looking forward to the spring so I can go to another, and would encourage anyone who is interested in nature and conservation to do the same."

Early October is generally a very busy time for bats, as Tom found out. Bats eat up to a third of their own body weight each night, and early October sees a final flurry of activity as they lay down fat reserves ready for five months of hibernation.

During autumn, bats also start to swarm, a group activity that experts still don't fully understand. Swarming sees large numbers of bats chase each other around entrances to caves and roosts, behaviour that may relate to reinforcing social relations and mating.

As part of the tour, attendees were given specialist equipment that helped to track the bats in the dark, as well as slow down the high frequency squeaking, the odd noises providing lots of entertainment.

If you're interested in getting involved with conservation in Sutton, the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers (SNCV) undertake practical conservation work three days during the week and at specific sites on a weekend. There are task days throughout the year, so if you want to help your community, meet new people or simply get out and about in the fresh air, contact the SNCV on 020 8770 5821 or sncv@sutton.gov.uk.

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