In 2017, as a part of the Devon Wildlife Trust Greater Horseshoe Bat Project (“the Bat Project”), and with support from the Tamar Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund in 2017, Gunnislake Community Matters (“GCM”), put up 14 bat boxes and seeded a wildflower meadow at the bottom of the King George V Playing Field to encourage the insects upon which the bats feed. The boxes should provide nests for the Pipistrelle bats in our valley. We know they are here. In September 2018, the Bat Project held an evening bat walk, starting in the playing field and then alongside the river Tamar. We saw a lot of bats at dusk. The bat detectors told us that they were Pipistrelles.
On 16 February 2019, six of us went to the Tamar Valley Centre for training in leading Bat Walks, and giving talks on bats. The training was given by the Bat Project. Lizzie, the trainer, showed us what resources and information are available on their website.
We were told that the Greater Horseshoe Bat is an “indicator species”. This means that the presence of these bats indicates that the environmental health of an area is strong. The area around Gunnislake is important as it contains nursery roosts for the Greater Horseshoe Bat. These bats themselves are quite rare, with an estimated population of some 6,500 in the UK. This population is mainly focused in Devon, Pembrokeshire, and our little bit of Cornwall.
Enthused by the training, we are now looking forward to GCM receiving bat detectors from the Bat Project, so that we can lead bat walks around Gunnislake. We hope to hold the first walk in April, then another in May, and possibly one in June; the latter coupled with listening for the call of Nightjars. We also hope to be able to loan the bat detectors to residents, so people can find out what bats are swooping around their gardens in the evenings.
If you want a batty walk before April, there are two different bat walk guides loaded onto the walks tab of the Gunnislake Village website.
The Bat Project is further supporting us in encouraging bats to the valley by supplying packets of bat friendly seeds. The seeds are for plants that will encourage insects and therefore provide a food source for bats. The seed packets will be available for residents to collect from the GCM Plant Stall at the Village Market on the first Saturday of each month. The packets will also be available from other businesses in the Village. More details will follow. The seeds can be spread in the garden, along verges, or in pots.
Keep a look out for more activities linked to our Batty Valley!