Bats Thriving In Scilly

Mike and Ann Gurr of the Scilly Bat Group

Mike and Ann Gurr of the Scilly Bat Group

Scilly’s bats are breeding, increasing in numbers and seem to have strong preferences for the places where they live.

Those are this year’s findings from the Isles of Scilly Bat Group.

Chairman Mike Gurr says they’ve been monitoring one of the most populated roosts at Tresco’s Abbey Gardens this summer and year-on-year, there’s been a marked increase in numbers of the mammals.

Mike says counts last July showed up to 199 bats at the site. This year they’ve recorded up to 287 bats, which he says is an encouraging rise in the population.

Mike’s team is also investigating a new, suspected roost at the Blockhouse on Tresco and he says the number of bats inhabiting a site at Maypole on St Mary’s has also increased.

Bat numbers have been on the rise over the last decade so Mike is uncertain whether it is a general trend or down to the good summer, which produced plenty of insects, a bat’s source of food.

Last year Radio Scilly aired an appeal for islanders to contact the group if they wanted to host a bat box. The broadcast appeal brought a number of responses and around 20 boxes, both wooden and concrete, were put up around St Mary’s.

Mike says they’re rarely used because there are plenty of natural roosts for the bats, but he says an experiment using both types of boxes at John Banfield’s property showed the bats love the concrete housings.

Mike’s not sure why wooden boxes are rejected when the bats have a choice, but he says the concrete ones are possibly warmer.

The club is also repeating their appeal for islanders who see bats feeding on beaches to record what they see, when and the weather conditions, and then to pass the information on to them.

There are usually a lot of insects around seaweed, which makes beaches a good feeding ground, but the group has never undertaken a serious study in this area

Mike says Porthmellon, Town Beach and the small patch of sand adjacent to The Mermaid car park seem popular for bats.