Image credit: ibats.org.uk
Badgers are likely to be present on the Meadows, as there is a considerable amount of suitable habitat for them on site. There are many common mammals seen daily, including grey squirrel, red fox and evidence of moles.
Other mammals found beside the River Cray are the water vole, and the brown rat, with both living in burrows on the riverbank. The former are more frequently found further along the River Cray towards Crayford Marshes.
The former feeds on grasses and is said to make a plopping noise as it drops into the water. The rats feed on anything within the surrounding housing and visitors providing meals via their waste food.
Water voles, which are a protected species, and brown rats are similar in appearance, but a vole’s tail, ears and muzzle are shorter than that of the rats.
Water vole (left) and brown rat (right). Credit: Pixabay
There are at least nine species of bat known to live in Bexley, all are nocturnal and feed on midges, moths and other flying insects that they find in the dark using echolocation. The best time to see them is April to October, around dusk, as they hibernate in winter.
The Meadows provide a home for Daubenton’s bat, common pipistrelle and historically the noctule bat have been present, but it is not clear if the latter remain on site.
Common pipstrelle (left) and Daubenton's bat (right). Credit: ibats.org.uk
Daubenton’s bat, which is a short-eared flying mammal, was first described in 1817 by Heinrich Kuhl, who named it in honour of French naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton.
These are slightly larger than common pipistrelles and are found usually close to calm water in open wooded areas. Sometimes these are referred to as ‘water bat’ as they forage for small flies, midges, caddisflies, and mayflies, just above water. They can even use their feet and tail to scoop up insects from the water’s surface.
These bats can live up to 22 years in the wild, but their average lifespan is four to five years.
The common pipistrelle is the smallest and the most common bat in the UK, so small it can fit into a matchbox. Despite its size, it can easily eat 3000 insects a night. They roost in tree holes, bat boxes and even in the roof spaces of houses.
The FFCM provides an annual gathering in the autumn, a Bat Experience, to tour sites around dusk where these mysterious creatures live. The money raised from this evening goes to a bat charity.
Check out the chart below for the main differences between Daubenton’s and Common pipistrelles.
Fluffy brownish fur, pale silver-grey belly and a pinkish face.
Dark, golden-brown fur, a slightly paler underside and a dark mask around the face.
Small to medium sized. 4.5-5.5cm in length
Smallest in UK. 3.5-4.5cm in length