“I don’t mind living with bats, but I don’t want them over for supper”
By Nic Faulks, Aug 15 2018 08:33PM
Sometimes you get lucky and get a roost visit close to home where you can build up a relationship over the years.
Somewhere near Rothbury, in an old house, a very nice roost owner with an excellent sense of humour reported bats in the kitchen regularly throughout the summer. I first went out under the roost visit scheme at the end of August 2016. The roost was obvious – droppings covered the walls of a small extension, and were noticeable inside around the loft hatch.
A long dark urine stain went down one kitchen wall.
We agreed to keep an eye on the situation and try to clean out the worst of the build up of droppings over the winter.
Nearly a year went by and then last Summer the bats were back and regularly joining the family for supper, including one night sitting on the roost owner’s husband’s shoulder whilst he ate.
With some cunning wall-top yoga I managed to block up most of the holes on the inside of the dining room, including above the Aga where some very mummified bats were found.
The season came and went, with nobody being overly keen to disturb whatever mound of poo was behind the loft hatch above the kitchen.
In April this year we took the plunge, and with Graeme’s appreciated help we crawled into a space measuring at most 1.5m high by 2m wide by 4m long to see what was happening in our roost.
So this was the view from the top of the ladder, the inside of the gable wall entrance on the photograph.
This was a pretty big roost, and judging by the smell and the sheer amount of droppings we assumed it was soprano pipistrelles. And a few of them were already back judging by the angry squeaking.
The bats had decided they were particularly fond of a patch of the loft, where they had scratched and disturbed the roofing felt and the Kingspan insulation boards. This had led to a build up of poo and urine in one place that had crammed into the resultant gap – this was what was causing the staining in the kitchen. With great care (and the careful removal of one resident) we removed the build-up, replaced the insulation board (leaving a small access gap) and went on our way.
We did have a go at removing the droppings that had built up. This bin bag has very little insulation in it.
We had this female to post back into the roost
Job done, we left for the day after some lovely bacon sarnies.
Over the summer I’ve had a couple more calls. There was the day when the roost owner called to tell me there was a bat in her handbag (which I safely returned to the roost) and then a not so good day at the beginning of July when the bats had reacted to the hot weather by trying to move into the gap between the slates and pitched roof ceiling above the bedroom, finding their way in via a roof joist into the bedroom where 10 flew around all night pooing everywhere.
Luckily, that didn’t last and once the hole was blocked in the ceiling inside there were no repeats.
On the 21st July we carried out a colony count and the bats were safely back above the kitchen and so loudly vocal they were audible without detectors from the driveway. The roost owner’s husband enjoyed the spectacle from a deckchair with a glass of wine. 427 soprano pips was the final count with the main entrance at the gable and a few from the eaves at each elevation.
The owners report most bats emerge from the corner by the dining room earlier in the year – perhaps when the juveniles are tiny it’s a warmer place to be by the Aga?
I throughly enjoyed reading the blog not only was it really entertaining but also extremely informative.