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My experience of the Dusk to Dark Bat Walk

BFER Volunteer Mary Farrell shares her experience of joining our guided bat walk at Knettishall Heath.

When I learned that I had a place on the Bat Walk that was being organised by the BFER I expected all the friends and family I told to share my enthusiasm. Who could not love these cute, quirky creatures? However, I soon realised that bats need good PR. Typical reactions were “they get in your hair”, “they stop building work” or “they damage churches”.

The walk took place at Knettishall Heath, one of the jewels in the crown of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, looking beautiful as the light faded. With its meadow and heathland, woods and riverside, this Site of Special Scientific Interest is home to about 12, 500 species, one third of which are nationally rare. The Heath is also an important green space for humans to walk and to enjoy its wildlife.

The 20 or so bat fans taking part in the walk were introduced to Lindsey Bilston from the Norfolk and Norwich Bat Group. She gave us a fascinating summary of the lives of bats, including their feeding, breeding  and social behaviour, which included the touching fact about vampire bats that any of them who are unable to leave the roost to feed are cared for by other members of the colony who bring them food. Lindsey also produced 2 (deceased) bats, a common Pipistrelle (its body the size of a 50p coin) and a Brown Long eared for our inspection.

Lindsey was keen to dispel the myth that bats fly into your hair and explained the work of the Bat Group. This includes advising churches on making small structural changes to prevent droppings causing damage. In this way, bats and congregation can exist in harmony.

We walked to the river path and within minutes there were bats flying over our heads and our bat detectors were picking up their calls. The detectors change the frequency so that humans can hear them, not screeching as people might expect but woodpecker like sounds, and “raspberries” when some unfortunate prey gets eaten.

The walk continued through some woodland and heathland, and we were joined at one point by some curious ponies. Over the evening we saw and heard the Common Pipistrelle, the Soprano Pipistrelle the Nathusius’ Pipistrelle, and the Noctule. We finished at the weir, a largish stretch of water where we hoped to see a Daubenton’s, or Water bat, which catches insects with its feet. They were not about that night, but we enjoyed seeing the fish jumping out of the water in the moonlight to catch their supper. We had been lucky to see four bat species.

When I got home my husband told me that he had seen 3 species of bat in our garden that evening. How lucky we are in the Brecks to have wonderful wildlife not only in special places like Knettishall Heath, but also there on our own doorsteps.

.Mary Farrell, BFER Blogging Volunteer.


If you would like to volunteer with BFER we would love to chat with you. Visit our Volunteer Hub to find out how to get involved.

Find out more information about Knettishall Heath at

Find out more about the Norfolk and Norwich Bat Group HERE