Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Leaving the back door light on

I like leaving the light above our back door on at night. Its the next best thing to having a real moth trap. We've seen some beautiful moths on the pebble-dashed wall the mornings after the light has been left on all night. We discovered that if the morning is cloudy, there will be more moths on the walls than if the sun is full out.

I left the light on last night in the hope that there would be some good moths. There was just one moth amongst the flappy throng of crane flies this morning and I had this moth identififed the other day by Mostlymacro as a Rosy Rustic.

But here is the big story. . . . I woke up at a very unsociable hour, 03:45 for some reason. I got up and stumbled to the kitchen for a drink of water. Looking out the kitchen window into the partially lighted back garden, I saw that the air was alive with bats! There must have been dozens bats of different sizes. Note to self: Ask for bat detector for Christmas.

It is peak crane fly season and leaving the light on at night this time of year attracts the crane flies. The bats were there harvesting the crane fly bounty and were zipping around in a very business like manner. It was obvious that the bats were getting a good feed.

This morning the bats were gone but they were replaced by dozens of Chaffinches. I haven't seen so many Chaffinches all summer. Where the heck had all these birds come from? It dawned on me pretty quickly that these birds were feasting on the crane flies that were missed by the bats and were on the ground in the shrubbery.

We also had swallows picking off crane flies from the walls and windows all morning. On a very regular basis, I'd hear a muted thump on the windows around the house where a swallow had misjudged things a bit. Thankfully all the swallows have flown off unhurt. When we had a big Wood Pigeon crash into the front room window the noise made me jump out of my skin! The pigeon also left a big powdery pigeon shaped print on the glass. Sadly that pigeon didn't make it.

I also saw my little warblers again, three of them this time. Now I know that my little brown birds are in fact Chiffchaffs and not Wood Warblers. Thanks to Bird Woman and her blog for the correct identification! You rock Emma!

Now that I know that leaving the light on will not only attract moths but help bats and Chaffinches fatten up for the winter, I will be leaving it on more often.


The Bird Woman said...


I'll try leaving our back light on tonight - it's not very bright but it's worth a go. No mothing done here for ages - weather just aint right!

saz said...

WOW - BATS! I'm a little afraid of them but actually saw one up close and was able to pet it at Marine the daylight they're awfully cute. At night it would make me a little nervous if I was outside.

Have any updates on Dad and Polly?

saz said...

Hi Peggy - I remembered the name of that purple flower - Statice - but it's also called Sea Foam or Sea Lavender. Leaves stay green during the winter. It blooms like crazy most of the year - doesn't require much water and I've seen a zillion Monarch butterflies in that park going for it in the Spring. I've often thought I would plant it in my yard but haven't yet. You can start it from seed...

susan said...

How amazing to see that. Bats..who woulda thunk?

Anonymous said...

I regularly have woodpigeon bounce of the screen of my 4 wheel drive especially if its parked close to where I'm shooting them. :0)

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