Monday, 2 June 2008

An Owl of Dismay

The chap from the Barn Owl Trust has called to check our owl box and see if it's inhabited. There are owls around, but I don't know if that's where they live.

I went, a few months back, to an information day about church maintenance - I learned a lot about gutters and drainage - the general principle is that if you keep your gutters and drainpipes in good nick, that's most of the repairs saved, except major structural ones, and many of them are caused by water in the wrong place anyway. Most of the questions were about bats in churches. Their droppings are very acidic and can damage, for example, marble monuments and wooden furniture, and pews have to be kept covered apart from service times, too or else people will sit on batshit and be displeased.

A local church (not in our village) has a big problem with bats - they are protected, of course, so nothing can be done to risk injuring them. Apparently, it started when the big house (the Old Rectory, in fact) next to the church caught fire. The bats had lived in the attics and, displaced, they moved into the church. They hadn't lived at the Old Rectory that long, in fact. A barn in the next field had been converted into a house. It seems that this left the bats homeless, until they found a new place to live...

There are a lot of bats about here, and I like them very much. Occasionally, one will get into the house. Of course, they can avoid you and there's no risk of being divebombed, but they are very small and impossible to catch and creep into the tiniest of cracks behind furniture, so it's hard to get it out again.

Anyway, about the bats in churches. One person said they had found the answer. They left the lights on overnight for a few weeks. This didn't harm the bats, but they didn't like it much, so they moved out. Once they had found somewhere else to live, the lights could be left off again.

Report back on the owls. A startled tawny owl flew out, but it was just sleeping there rather than nesting. There are pellets around, so it's evidently a regular roost. They were quite encouraged by this, as it's the first owl they have come across today after a morning of box-visiting.

13 comments:

Dandelion said...

Well, z, I think this is a very slippery slope of a fine line, if you don't mind me saying. Do the bat-inspectors know?

Z said...

This is true, but if you ever were to get bats in your belfry, you might be glad of the information.

unpretentious said...

man is also a fiercely territorial animal is he not. we dont even tolerate other human beings invading 'our' space...much less the bats...

Dave said...

We got bats in the first house we bought (no curtains at the windows). I caught and removed them (I don't think, 30 years ago, I knew about protected status, if, indeed, such a thing existed).

Of course, 30 years ago I was only a child, so why should I have known about their status?

I may blog about this, now you've reminded me.

Z said...

Everything in its own place? - yes good point.

Indeed, they can be caught, given some preparation. I was thinking of a bat swooping through an open window and trying to catch it and let it out again. Youth was no excuse, Dave.

PI said...

Sorry to be non PC but I think bats are a pain in the bum.

Z said...

I love to see them swooping in the sky in the evenings, catching a lot of pesky midges and flies, but I wouldn't be thrilled if they lived in the attic above my bedroom. The occasional mouse influx in there is nuisance enough, particularly as they seem to wear hobnailed boots and march steadfastly across the floor. I like to hear the birds nesting in the roof above my study though.

Gordie said...

Down here in Devon, most of the barns and farm outbuildings have been converted into des res's, so the bats and the owls find it increasingly hard to find a home.

girl with the mask said...

My droppings can be acidic too. I am glad that I am not alone.

Z said...

Egad, Batgirl - to the batcave with you...

The Boy said...

Can you give me a link or contact for the trust? We know we have owls in the area, and want to help out.

I'm with you on the pleasure of seeing bats swooping about, but I'd put my foot down at sharing our house with them.

Our mice however, must be close relations to your hobnailed shod variety. Noisy little blighters, and traps get deployed.

Z said...

It's run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Ornithologists' Group, but there are Wildlife Trusts in most counties. If you go to www.wildlifetrusts.org there's a link where you can find your local one.

luckyzmom said...

Clever bat solution. Bats are hugely beneficial bug exterminators. I'm not surprised that the owl felt comfortable napping in your owl box.