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4 Posts tagged with the bats tag

On a summer’s day in the Wildlife Garden and the Museum grounds, you might find several hundred different kinds of insects. If you count the individuals, including the honey bees and ants, then maybe thousands. Who knows, they might even outnumber the daily throng of human visitors to our galleries and exhibitions.


Indeed, there are more species of insect in the world than any other  group - experts have named over 1 million. (Some entomologists even  estimate 10 million species.) And not a day goes by for us humans, I’m  sure, without an encounter with at least one or many of them.


Discover insect life this weekend in the Wildlife Garden as you  explore the meadows by the ponds. There are displays, activities and  tours and also talks in the nearby Darwin Dentre to join.

Come along on Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 July, to Insect Weekend in the Wildlife Garden and Darwin Centre and meet some of this multitudinous and diverse group. Find out about the buzzers, flutterers and crawlers from bees to beetles and damelflies to butterflies and moths.


On both days, there will be lots of fun activities for all ages, and many displays to explore.

What will you see at Insect Weekend under the microscope? And tread carefully by the ponds, froglets are about. Select images to enlarge

Recent sightings in the garden includes lots of butterflies, from large white to comma, holly blue and speckled wood varieties.


Tiny froglets and toadlets are emerging from the ponds, so you'll need to tread carefully in the grasslands by the ponds. And don't forget the hundreds of tropical butterflies to see next door on the East lawn in our Sensational Butterflies exhibition.


Another highlight of the weekend event on Sunday will be botany expert Roy Vickery's tour of the garden about the 'forgotten uses of wild plants'. The 30-minute tours start around 1.45 and 3.15.


Spiders are distant relatives of insects but that doesn't seem to bother them when it comes to their dietary requirements. Not sure what would escape this spider web photographed recently in the Wildlife Garden!

Visitors will get an insight into the insect diets of other creatures like bats, spiders and frogs. Apparently, at last month's Bat Festival in the Wildlife Garden, a lttle pipestrelle  bat spent nearly an hour flying over and around the main pond, in  pursuit of midges and other small insects. It caused a bit of a stir! And the Wildlife Garden team will be doing a bat survey on Saturday.


Max Barclay's Beetlemania talk and his collection highlights on Saturday are sure to be popular and another talk on Sunday, Caught in a Trap, will reveal the secrets of collecting insects. Both free talks are in the Attenborough Studio at 12.30 and 14.30.


Find out about the Wildlife Garden online

What is an insect?

Insects (from the Latin insectum) are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae.


Find out more about insects and spiders on our Nature Online pages


Every day we get enquiries about identifying strange looking insects on our online Identification forum


Join the OPAL Bugs Count survey - an amazing 204,205 bugs have already been counted so far.


Read the Bug Count launch news story and find out the 6 minibeasts to look out for


Last year's Bat Weekend and its stars (see below) was one of our most popular events in the Wildlife Garden in 2010. And this year will be battier and better, because we're celebrating the Year of the Bat.


Our Bat Festival this weekend on 4 and 5 June promises to be a great family day out. You can go on the bat bed and breakfast trail through the Wildlife Garden to find out what insects they eat and where they sleep, try out things like bat box building, make willow bats and do other batty crafts, as well as see bat specimen displays. I've also heard a rumour there will be bat-shaped shortbreads on the refreshments stalls.


If you head over to the nearby Darwin Centre, you can learn about echolocation and bat detection in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. And in the Attenborough Studio there are two free bat talks at 12.30 and 14.30 on both days.


baby-bats.jpgJune is a particularly active month for bats because it's when the young are born, so it's a good time to find things out about them.


As in past years, the Sussex Bat Hospital and the Bat Conservation Trust will be joining us over the weekend and telling us about what they've been doing to help our bat community.


About 25 per cent of the world's bats are threatened with extinction. At least 12 species, such as the Puerto Rican flower bat, have already become extinct. That said, there are more than 1,100 species of bats worldwide, making up around  one-fifth of all mammals. And new bat species are

still being discovered.


The United Nation's Year of the Bat campaign is spearheaded by the Convention on Migratory Species and EUROBATS. It aims to highlight the unique role bats play in the environment and stress the urgency for global bat conservation. Historically bats have had a bit of a bad press - think Dracula, vampire bats etcetera - and the campaigners also want to give bats a fresh image.

So don't miss our festival, bats are depending on you to show support. And it's free.

  • are one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals. Flight has enabled them to live almost everywhere in the world. Bats are most numerous in the tropics, and Central and South America are home to almost one-third of the world’s bats. Indonesia has 175 species of bats while here in the UK we have 18 speciesbat-book.jpg
  • can be as big as a small dog or as small as a bee. The largest bats are the flying foxes with wingspans of up to 2 metres and a body weight of 1.5 kilograms. At the other end of the scale is the bumblebee bat or Kitti's hog-nosed bat, weighing only 2 grams – the world’s smallest mammal
  • are not blind
    • help replenish our forests and sustain other important eco-systems from deserts to wetlands. Through insect control, bats reduce crop damage and slow down the spread of disease. Many foods, medicines and other products are created thanks to bats, (including shortbread bats no doubt!)

    If you want to delve further into the world of bats, the Museum has just published a new edition of Bats by bat expert Phil Richardson.


    Bats take over Bank Holiday Weekend

    Posted by Rose Aug 26, 2010

    If you want to discover some real stars of the night this Bank Holiday Weekend - as opposed to the festival rockers or carnival kind - flock to our Wildlife Garden for Bat Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 August.


    Three species of bat have been seen flying and feeding in the Museum's Wildlife Garden (Common pipestrelle, above, Soprano pipestrelle, and Daubenton's bat). Live bat photos here and below © Hugh Clark, Bat Conservation Trust

    We join the European Bat Weekenders in a celebratiion of bats, giving 1000s of people across the country the chance to find out more about bats. The Bat Conservation Trust is urging everyone to go out and see and hear bats in their natural enviroment.



    Highlights at our own weekend event include a bat treasure hunt round the garden, hands-on demonstrations from bat experts, including bat box building, and lots of batty crafts. Come and see a display of insects that bats feed on and visit the Bat Conservation Trust information tent on the front lawn. We have teamed up with the Bat Conservation Trust, our Centre for UK Biodiversity, and the OPAL team to bring you the event.


    Batty talks are being held on Saturday and Sunday in the Attenborough Studio. See some of the speakers' featured bat specimens in the Darwin Centre atrium after the talks at 13.15 and 15.15.


    Fingers crossed for some sunshine. Last year, we had a really popular event here (pictured below).


    Find out more about our Bat Weekend. If you can't make it here, see what bat events are near you.

    Any sightings of bats made over the weekend can be shared online on the Interactive Big Bat Map. Look out for the common pipestrelle (in flight above) and the brown long-eared bat (above right).

    On Saturday, also watch out for the scary-looking Daubenton's bat featured online as our Species of the Day.


    I leave you with a few bat facts:


    There are 18 species of bat in the UK, 17 of which are known to breed here, accounting for more than a quarter of mammal species.


    It is estimated that a pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night! There are few other nocturnal insect-eaters, and a single insect-eating bat may eat 100s of insects a night.


    Human activities have by far the greatest influence on bat populations. Loss of habitat for roosting and foraging has caused declines in bat populations. Intensive farming practices have led to a reduction in the abundance of insects which the bats rely on as their only food source.


    Find out much more about bats on the Bat Conservation Trust website. Youngsters can join the Young Batworkers' Club, learn batty facts and find fund things to do.

    Click on the images to enlarge them. Thanks to the Bat Conservation Trust for the live bat images.



    Our Wildlife Garden is taking part once again in London's Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 12 and 13 June.


    Special treats lined up for visitors include the chance to meet a bat expert and to get more acquainted with our family of moorhens (left) and the rest of our busy pond community in the garden.

    The Wildlife Garden's freshwater ponds are home to many species of plants and animals. If you're lucky at the weekend, you might spot the little moorhen chicks and azure damselflies competing for attention with the likes of diving beetles and common newts.


    Our bat expert, Sean Hanna, will be in the garden both days, revealing lots of fascinating bat facts. Incidentally, did you know that brown long-eared bats, like the cutie in the picture below (click to enlarge), have such good hearing they can hear a ladybird walking on a leaf...long-eared-bat-600.jpg


    Garden photographer Sue Snell will be signing copies of her new book, The Garden at Charleston, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning at the event. Sue has been photographing this artistic and quintessentially English garden at Charleston, beloved by the Bloomsbury Group, for the last decade,


    Other highlights of our weekend event will include leaf rubbing and seed identification activities and stalls selling refreshments and wild flowers plants. The event is free.


    Find out more about the Open Garden Squares Weekend event in the Wildlife Garden and visit the official Museum page on the Open Garden Squares Weekend website


    Make the most of this weekend to also visit other rarely-open or little-known London gardens. This year there are 200 London gardens taking part in Open Garden Squares Weekend. You can find out who's taking part at the Open Garden Squares website


    More to follow up online


    Some bat secrets are revealed on our website.

    If you're interested in more pond facts, have a look at our Freshwater ponds webpage

    Browse our visitors' Wildlife Garden webpage