A couple of weeks ago, rather unexpectedly I found myself crawling around in a cave searching for bats. Tim and I visited Paignton Zoo for a regional meeting of the Countryside Management Association (CMA). This essentially is a professional association for countryside professionals. It’s main focuses are training, sharing best practice and knowledge among rangers. We were expecting just to attend the meeting but were offered the chance to assist with some routine bat surveys by the zoos ranger. Naturally we jumped at the chance!
Clad in overalls, with hard hats and flash lights we headed down into the caves. These caves tell a story of Devon’s violent geological past. Stalactites hung from the ceiling looking like molten wax candles. We were on the lookout for bats, but almost immediately found something more altogether unusual in this kind of habitat. A slow worm had somehow fallen into the cave and become stranded, unable to get up the steep steps to the world outside. Luckily for this creature, we were able to rescue it.
We did manage to fin some bats, across the two caves, we found a single Greater Horseshoe Bat and a Lesser Horseshoe Bat. It was great to see them hanging out in the darkness! We didn’t linger too long in the caves, as our presence there would raise the temperature of the caves.
Along the walls were lots and lots of fearsome looking cave spiders! Unfortunately I lost the pictures from the caves, but these are well worth googling.
Here is a list of the species we saw:
- Slow Worm Anguis fragilis
- a Lesser Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus hipposideros,
- a Greater Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum,
- a Bloxworth Snout Moth Hypena obsitalis
- Herald Moth Scoliopteryx libatrix,
- European Cave Spider, Meta menardi