What’s in that poo?

Text and photos by Hazel Makepeace – workshop held on 30th January 2020 in the NHSN Council Room.

Who thought looking at bat poo could be so much fun! 

As a follow on to the ‘Who’s Poo is That?’ workshop and after attending a kick sampling event in the River Coquet, where larvae and nymphs were analysed and identified with the use of a microscope, I felt inspired and enthused to try analysing bat droppings.

Last week we held our first session of “What’s in that poo?”  A number of us got together to venture into the world of analysis of bat droppings.  The Natural History Society of Northumbria’s Honorary Librarian, Les Jessop very kindly found me a fantastic booklet called “Identification of Arthropod Fragments in Bat Droppings” which proved to be invaluable.
The day before the event,  bat droppings were prepared using a mix of Ethanol and water, as per the instructions in the booklet  then on the evening a few drops of Glycerine were added to soften the material.  Dissecting needles were then used to gently tease apart the fragments and incredible views of this material were seen through the microscopes (very kindly lent  to us by Newcastle University).
Wing case from noctule poo

Several excellent images were taken through the microscope which  enabled us to share with more expert eyes –wing case is from a beetle found in a  Noctule  (Nyctalus noctula) dropping  and the compound eyes are from a fly taken from a Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) dropping.

A huge ‘thankyou’ to Natural History Society of Northumbria for use of the Council Room, Gordon Port for organising the microscopes and Les Jessop for sourcing the publication.  Also thanks to Mandy Tomas and Cara for providing petri dishes and other very useful tips and advice.

Compound eyes from a fly

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