Monday 21 October 2019

Drogheda batty about bats!

Bat Eco Services was commissioned by Drogheda Tidy Town to undertake a general bat survey of the town environs and plans are afoot to further encourage their survival by the banks of the Boyne.

Three bat species were frequently recorded during these bat surveys: common pipistrelle, Leisler's bat and soprano pipistrelle. These three species are the three most common bat species recorded in Ireland. The All Ireland Daubenton's Bat Waterways Survey has been collecting data on this species of bat since 2006 and this species has been regularly recorded on the River Boyne.

The majority of the bat encounters recorded during the walking and driving transects were associated with the River Boyne. This reflects the importance of riverine habitats in our urban areas as commuting and foraging areas for nocturnal mammals such as bats.

They said any enhancement works for local bat populations should involve connecting treelines, hedgerows and woodlands to the river boundaries in order to facilitate greater connectivity. Lighting can impede bat activity. Therefore sensitive planning with regards to street lighting is also important.

In relation to landscaping, providing increase areas of native tree and shrub vegetation, especially in parks and areas along the River Boyne will increase suitable foraging and commuting habitats for bats. The following principals could be followed:

- Plant additional native hedgerow and tree species.

- Individual deciduous trees to allow mature trees to develop over time.

- Where possible, pockets (field corners or park corners) of small groups of deciduous trees to provide shelter belts for foraging.

- Avoid the use of chemicals (weed killers, etc.) within the planting zones.

- Use planting to buffer important habitats such as the River Boyne for residual street lighting.

There is a bat box scheme currently located in the park beside the River Boyne. Additional bat boxes could be erected in other landscape areas within the town environs. The bat boxes - a 1FF Schwegeler woodcrete bat boxes - are suitable for the Irish weather (i.e. they last up to 20 years when erected on mature trees etc. Alternatively or in combination Rocket bat boxes could also be erected in landscape areas.

Drogheda Independent