All photos herein taken by us ©Wildacres

Bats In Our Belfry!


Well, they would be in our Belfry if we had a Belfry! Though we are just as happy to report they are present and flitting around in good numbers on Wildacres Nature Reserve.

Daubentons Bat (Myotis daubentonii) hunting over open water. Catching insects from the water surface. Adobe Images.


Even more heartening is the fact we have had confirmed that we have eight of our nine native Bat species present. We were thrilled to learn that included the deemed to be now rare, Natterers Bat.

Flying Rare Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri) at night – distinctive white belly. Adobe Images.


The one missing bat species from Wildacres is the Lesser Horeshoe Bat, which sadly is now confined to the West of the country. Found now only in counties Cork (West), Kerry Clare Galway Limerick & Mayo.

Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) Adobe Images.


Habitat loss through intensive agriculture and urbanisation, chemical poisoning through the liberal use of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, climate change and other specific problems such as light pollution are impacting hugely on our bats and wildlife in general.

As is the case with a lot of our wildlife, we are only beginning to appreciate the important role these fascinating mammals play in a functioning healthy ecosystem.

whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus), hibernating on a stone wall. Adobe Images.

Bat Monitoring At Wildacres

Continuous Bat Recording Equipment being used to monitor Bat species at Wildacres

We have recently become involved with an exciting project run by the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) after we were contacted by Joe Rayner. Joe had heard about us as a result of an article on Wildacres, published in Birdwatch Irelands fantastic magazine “Wings” See the article here

He had been involved with this project before coming to Ireland and had brought with him a high specification continuous Bat recording system. Both he and the project coordination, Stuart Newton a Senior Reserarch Ecologist with the BTO, have very kindly entrusted us to use this recording system at Wildacres.

This Bat Monitoring project is called The BTO Acoustic Pipeline

It supports the sound identification of bats across Europe. Regional or country-specific classifiers are used, with additional interpretation to flag identifications of species that are rare or unexpected at a Country or UK County scale.

Using this equipment at Wildacres we are recording bat calls, over several nights at a time. These recordings are then downloaded and submitted back to the BTO. They then analyse the recordings and send back a report detailing the species of bat, time date and accuracy rating of each individual recording. Any interesting low accuracy rated individual recording can then be resubmitted for further detailed analysis and verification.

Continuous Bat Recording Equipment


Close up of a pair of common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipi) Adobe Images.

Creating Habitats

At Wildacres we have been working hard over the last five years on converting and healing the land, to create a mosaic of habitats to help and attract all our native wildlife. The many ponds, escaped native hedgerows, wildflower meadow, Redcross river with its reinstated riparian zone, and growing native woodland, all provide a habitat in which wildlife can now thrive.

This wildlife includes such creatures as moths and other small insects which in turn then provide a rich food source for many larger animals, including our native bats. We recently conducted a moth survey over several nights and were both thrilled and encouraged to see an abundance of species and in large numbers.

All good news for hungry bats!

Elephant Hawk moth

Six spot burnet moth


Tiger Moth


At Wildacres the thirteen Wildlife ponds (more on the way!!) and other restored habitats we have created, have no doubt helped attract in bats for feeding on the emergent insect life. The Daubentons Bat, that seems to be present in good numbers at Wildacres, specialises in feeding over open water.

Nathusius pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii)

Some Fascinating Bat Facts!

  • Some bats such as our tiny common pipistrelle weighs a mere 5 grams, but can eat up to 3000 insects a night!.
  • Our rare Natterers bat is such a skilled hunter it can pluck spiders from their webs, whist our Long eared bat has such incredibly acute hearing it can hear a insect walking on a nearby leaf.
  • Bats only usually produce one baby pup a year and are incredibly long lived for their size.
  • The average lifespan is 7-8 years but can be u to 15 years!. They are incredibly long lived compared to mammals of a similar size and weight such as mice and shrews that live only a year or at a stretch two. They are currently being studied to unlock the secrets in their genes that give them this extended lifespan.

Absolutely fascinating animals!

Brown Long Eared Bat – Plecotus auritus – hunting at night. Adobe Images


Like all our wildlife, Bats need the necessities of food, clean water, and shelter. All these are in short supply these days for our wildlife as habitats are continually being destroyed and degraded, often with little or no regard for the wild creatures that call that place home. As the add on the radio says, “When they’re gone there gone”!

The heartening thing is that we can all make a real difference and reverse this depressing biodiversity loss. By taking some actions as listed below and demanding of our elected representatives that they treat the Biodiversity emergency they declared in the Dail in May 2019, as the real emergency it is.

We have further plans to help our resident bats at Wildacres by installing more roosting boxes this winter, and building a structure that could be used as a Hibernaculum for them to overwinter. This feature would also house a dedicated area within, on the warmer south facing aspect, that could be used as a maternity roost for the females that communally gather to give birth, and rear their young.

What can you do to help bats in your local area?

Leisler’s bat or the Irish bat (Nyctalus leisleri) Adobe Images

Take Action!

Actions you can take to have a positive impact for Biodiversity conservation and to specifically help our wonderful bats.
  • Plant native flowering wildflowers shrubs and trees, (See list at end for inspiration!) especially ones to attract night flying pollinators such as Honeysuckle. Any native tree or shrub planted will make a difference to help restore Biodiversity.
  • Native Hedgerow is a fantastic feature for wildlife in general and especially for Bats. They will use it to hunt along, and when it is made up of a diversity of native shrubs and trees it will attract all sorts of insects, providing a rich food source for our wonderful Bats. (See list at end for inspiration!)
  • Also wonderful for bats are our native Hawthorn, Hazel, Willow and Guelder Rose planted as a Hedge, Bats will hunt for insects after dark following the line of a hedge.
  • Don’t use chemical pesticides
  • Allow a section of your outdoor space to go wild, wildlife loves wild areas !
  • Create a (child safe) wildlife pond, bats will often hunt close to or over water catching emergent insects.
  • Don’t leave bright lights on outside at night, it interferes with bats foraging.
  • Put up Bat roosting boxes at various locations, not accessible to predators such as cats, and facing different directions, a lot of species will use these to roost during the daytime.
  • In summer keep cats indoors an hour before the sun sets to avoid predation as bats emerge.


Planting for Bats.

The following, whilst not exhaustive, is a list of native plants that will help wildlife in general, and especially so, our wonderful native nine bat species.

 Plant type English name
Perennial Meadow Wildflowers Ox Eye Daisy





Purple Loosestrife

Yellow Rattle


White and Red Clover


Field Scabious

Devils Bit Scabious

Corn Marigold

Meadow Buttercup

Lady Bedstraw

Birds-Foot Trefoil


Climbers Dogrose
Trees and shrubs Oak
Silver birchDowny Birch
Goat willow
Guelder rose
ElderRowanCherry BirdWild Cherry
Rock plants for walls Ivy-leaved toadflax


Check out our website or social platforms, which will feature updates on an ongoing basis on the many features and habitat enhancements we are continuously working on at Wildacres.

Or why not sign up to one of our upcoming Tours or Events to take place at Wildacres themed around Biodiversity education.

Wildacres is a Social Enterprise and all profits earned go directly towards protecting our Native Wildlife