Are you bonkers about bats?
30 August 2007
They are the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight; there are over 1,100 species worldwide; they emit high-pitch sounds; they can be found almost anywhere in the world apart from the polar regions and extreme deserts; and this Saturday 1 September 2007, Historic Scotland rangers are inviting people to come and find out a whole lot more (and go a bit bonkers) about the bats in and around Linlithgow Palace.
Natalie Taylor, Historic Scotland Countryside Ranger said: "Linlithgow Palace and the surrounding peel host a significant bat population with the pipistrelle species located by the loch and Daubenton’s bats roosting within the Palace itself. The Bonkers about Bats event will encourage adults and children alike to discover more about these fascinating creatures and learn of their importance within the ecosystem. We will also be dispelling any myths about bats, for instance proving they actually have good eyesight which is contrary to what many people think."
Visitors will meet the rangers at the Palace car park at 7.00pm. They will then head into the Palace to go batty with arts and crafts creating bat boxes and masks. Following this, the rangers will give a special bat talk, answering all the questions people have about these interesting creatures. Then it will be time to go on the bat hunt around the Palace and its grounds. The evening will end around 9.00pm.
Rangers will use electronic bat detectors to locate the bats. These allow the extremely high-pitched sounds bats make to be heard by humans. Bats use the returning echoes of these sounds to locate their insect prey – a system called echolocation. The colony within Linlithgow Palace is a maternity roost which is especially important as bats only give birth to one pup per year making them vulnerable to extinction.
Bonkers about Bats is on Saturday 1 September at 7.00pm at Linlithgow Palace. Booking is recommended as numbers are limited. Please contact the ranger service on 01506 842605.
Notes for editors
Historic Scotland Countryside Ranger, Natalie Taylor holds a special licence from Scottish Natural Heritage which permits her to handle bats and investigate their roosts; without such a licence, it is illegal to disturb bats in any way.
Over past decades, numbers of bats and their roosts (which are protected by law) have declined because feeding areas have been lost and the use of pesticides has reduced insect numbers. Bats depend on plentiful insects such as midges, small flies and moths; in one night, a single bat can eat 3,000 insects. For further information on bats, visit The Bat Conservation Trust website www.bats.org.uk.
Historic Scotland, which cares for Linlithgow Palace, is committed to protecting bat colonies in the properties and sites in its care, and a number of initiatives have been introduced to support bat conservation, such as planting bushes and flowers which attract the insects bats feed on.
Linlithgow Palace is in Linlithgow off the M9. Admission is charged to the Palace – though the rangers’ event is free - ticket prices are £5.00 for adults, £4.00 for concessions and £2.50 for children.
The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are set in a park beside a loch. All of the Stewart kings lived here, and numerous renovations to the Palace’s grand facades and chambers were carried out as each sought to create the ideal modern palace.
The Palace was last visited by the Stewart family in 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed. In 1746, the Duke of Cumberland set the Palace on fire as he left to travel north to fight this very same Stewart at Culloden.
The Loch is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the extensive wildfowl population. A well surfaced walkway around the loch gives good views of the abundant water birds including swans, ducks, great-crested and little grebes.
Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/properties.
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Executive charged with safeguarding the nation’s built heritage. It is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.