Bat walks at Arundel Wetland Centre

PIPISTRELLES, daubentons and noctules – these are some of the creatures night visitors to WWT Arundel Wetland Centre go batty for.

The 2012 series of bat walks at the reserve start on Thursday, April 26.

“The walks always sell out,” said centre manager, Olivia Iles.

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“We only take a limited number of walkers to ensure an intimate, quality experience for the participants.”

Each walk at the centre is different.

In May last year, bat walkers were treated to a close encounter with a tiny pipistrelle bat, in the hands of reserve warden Paul Stevens.

Paul is a licensed bat handler and was nursing the small bat back to health.

He is regularly called out to assist with bat issues as a member of the Bat Conservation Trust and a warden with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

“The signs are good for bats onsite this year,” he said.

“We already have seven pipistrelles in one of the overnight bat roosting boxes.

“Last September, the walkers were able to watch 12 pipistrelles emerge at dusk from this same box, one after the other, in the space of 30 minutes. It was magical.”

On the walks, bat detectors are used to locate bats and flashlights pick them out in the dark to watch them feed over the water.

Neil Phillipson from Viewpoint Optics will take night-vision monoculars on all the bat walks this year.

“We had fantastic fun at the Arundel events last year,” said Neil.

“It was great to be able to demonstrate the use of night vision equipment to see wildlife after dark.”

In August, the large swan lake at the centre will be temporarily drained as part of the work on the new Arun Riverlife project.

“It will be interesting to see how the bats adapt in August,” said Paul.

“The daubenton bats feed over the waters in front of the Sand Martin hide too, so we will redirect the walks there.”

Evening bat walks at Arundel Wetland Centre start on Thursday, April 26. The walk costs £12 per person and must be pre-booked by calling 01903 881530.