Tuesday, 17 May 2011


In the chaos of nightingale season I almost forgot about Pip. He was brought into my office early last week and then ignored in a box on my desk while we worked outside with the midweek volunteers. I looked in on him after lunch and he was gone: But I soon found him hanging upside-down from a neighbouring desk. He seemed sluggish and I didn't give much for his chances. These tiny mammals are likely to go the way of my tomatoes (all dead by the way) when we get a late frost.

I waited until the end of the day to see if he was fit enough to release. He didn't look like a fighter I must say: Just hanging-out in his box looking, frankly, boring. I walked him back to where he was found in the faint hope of a successful release. If he didn't perk up I was prepared to take him indoors again.

As soon as I put him on a tree he sprang to life. He didn't fly but he "ran" up the branch in a sinister looking bat-crawl, using his hooked wing-fingers and his hind toes. If I had been a bird I would have pecked him to death for just being batty. When he reached the top of the branch he promptly turned upside-down and went to sleep. Then he was virtually invisible.

Pip is a pipistrelle bat. We don't have many at Paxton so we like to look after them. I guess that most of the ones we see come from houses in the village, but a few live in old, ivy-covered trees on the reserve. This is not really a woodland site, but a few more bat boxes might help.

Actually we have two kinds of pipistrelle that have different voices, but they look the same in the hand. You have to point an electronic bat detector at them to tell the difference.