17th August 2016
Members of the Norfolk Bats in Churches Project, led by Phil Parker, ran a series of 7 bat nights in some of Norfolk's medieval Churches containing significant bat roosts during late July and early August. This follows on from regular events held over the past 4 years at Cley Church on the north Norfolk coast (an area more usually associated with its rare birds) and occasional events at other churches.
Phil Parker giving a talk at All Saints Church (Thornham) (Photo by David Watt)
Churches involved (in date order) were as follows:
Watlington - St Peter and St PaulHarpley - St LawrenceCley - St Margaret'sWalsoken - All SaintsWighton - All SaintsBanham - St Mary the VirginThornham - All Saints
The total attendance over the 7 nights has been c480 people averaging at almost 70 people per event. The largest attendance was at Harpley where over 100 people attended (although the lure of a barbecue must have helped). An average of £300 was raised by each of the churches on the night for church funds.
The programme for the evening included a presentation about bats and their use of churches, refreshments, displays, watching baby bats being fed and finally watching the bats flying around the churches and emerging from their roost sites.
Phil Parker delivering a talk at St Mary the Virgin (Banham) Photo by Anita Bounds
The weather was warm and dry on five of the nights but it rained on two. However, this did not affect observation of the bats inside the church using 2 infra red cameras and monitors. Where possible, people were also encouraged to stand outside the church and see and hear the bats leaving using some of the many bat detectors available.
The majority of the evenings were enhanced by the presence of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust representatives (who run the Churchyard Conservation Scheme at many of Norfolk's churches) who provided a display and many leaflets.
The feedback on the events has been excellent, so much so that requests for more bat nights in 2017 have already been received.
The events were well advertised amongst the parishes and also on the Bat Conservation Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust websites as well as via various Facebook Groups.
Waiting for the bats at St Margaret's Church (Cley) (Photo by Phil Parker)
If anyone else would be interested in having a bat night at their church in Norfolk, please contact Phil Parker on 01553 630842. Clearly it makes a much better experience for attendees if it is a church with a good bat population.
Bats and Churches Partnership: http://www.batsandchurches.org.uk/
Bats in Churches Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Norfolkbatsinchurchesstudygroup/
Bats and Churches: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bats_and_churches.html