S2E14 A camping trip in the New Forest was the first sighting of bats that broadcaster, naturalist and writer Chris Packham had. He became the president of the Bat Conservation Trust in 2006 and in this episode recorded during the 2020 lockdown, Steve Roe asks Chris what it was about the Trust that made him want to become President. Chris tells us about the time he had serotine bats flying around his house whilst watching a European cup final and reveals some of the bat encounters he's had during his career as a television presenter.
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You know, to understand bats and to learn from them in the field, you really have to strive that really takes effort. And I suppose that you know, on the geek ladder, the bat workers are above the hedgehog and badger workers I'm going to get myself in so much trouble for this!Steve Roe:
Well, here we are. A year after we first launched BatChat, we are now bringing you series two. And what a fantastic lineup we have for you between now March, as events unfolded back in the spring, we weren't sure when exactly we were going to be launching this series as various interviews got pushed back and rescheduled. Indeed, some interviews we had planned, will have to wait for series three. However, like everyone else, we have made the best of the situation. And we've lockdown suddenly thrust upon us back in March, everyone's diaries became a little quieter. And so we seize the opportunity to make this recording with the President of the Bat Conservation Trust Chris Packham over an internet phone call, something that is now all too familiar to most of us. Just before we get going, we'd like to say welcome back to all of our listeners. And if this is the first time you're listening to us a very warm welcome. If you don't follow the Bat Conservation Trust on social media, you can find us on most platforms, the links are in the show notes to this episode. So give us a follow. You'll see that at the moment we're really busy promoting bats this Halloween, such as challenging people to take part in the Great British Bat Bake. You can find out how to get involved in that from the link in the show notes. I'm Steve Roe. And as I mentioned just now we did this interview in March over an internet call. So apologies that the sound quality isn't quite what you would expect from BatChat. But we hope that for this one occasion you'll understand. So without further delay, I'm delighted to welcome to BatChat, the naturalist presenter and campaigner Chris Packham, president of the Bat Conservation Trust. So Chris, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to join us How are you guys coping during the lockdown now that your diaries become a lot clearer? Presumably living in the New Forest you're managing to get outdoors at the moment?Unknown:
Yes, we are. We're very fortunate that we've got a small garden but a large wood in which the house is situated. So we're able to safely walk our dogs and get some exercise every day. The garden is surrounded by fields and woods. So there's plenty of wildlife in and out the bird feeders are, are still busy. And lots of wildflowers coming up that I've planted in the garden. So yeah, we're very, very fortunate to be able to access nature from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep and we're doing what we can to share that with other people. Meghan my stepdaughter who's self isolating with me, and I have been doing a daily, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and BBC Facebook, broadcast for half an hour on our mobile phones using Skype mixed by Fabian Harrison, who is self isolating in Norwich. And yes, it's going well a lot of people seem to be enjoying our little nature broadcasts every morning we've had guests on we had wildlife cameraman this morning, we've had Michaela Strachen, we've got Iolo Williams coming up. So we're trying to get as many people to chip in using this very low fi technology so that we can share some of the joy that we're getting from nature. At this time when it's difficult to find much joy in the mainstream media, you know, yeah, I have to say I was quite impressed with the the broadcasting abilities because we're flipping between all sorts of different people between yourselves and bits of recorded clips. They'd like to say guest presenter So yeah, that was really, really good. I mean, it sounds like you've got a lovely area on your on your doorstep. Have you managed to do about survey on your local patch and if you have what species of bat have you recorded there. Yeah, we have of course at the moment and the last few nights it's been really cold here actually overnight, bitterly cold northerly winds, and the only animals that have been active have been common and soprano, pipistrelles. We've been out we've been trying to film something for a little so we've been out with the with the bat detector and that's all we've managed to pick up during the summer later in the year when things warm up. We have serotines and noctules here. The word that I've always been disappointed I'd hoped that there would be barbastelle Bechstein's in the woods. We do have them relatively close by in the New Forest and in other areas. But it's just those common species that we have in and around the house. Occasionally we get the pips roosting in an old stables, dilapidated stables building, which is adjacent to where we are no sign of activity at the moment. That's more a summer thing but Yeah, I mean, I had been spending some time in France part of that and had a fantastic serotine roost in the house in France, but of course, no danger of getting there this week. So I hope that they've all got through the winter and they're probably having a happy time because there's no humans messing things up. But there are holes in the house, which means animals and come and go to from the main body of the house. My fondest memories was watching a European Cup final and having serotines flying above me inside the house and then finding their way out through these holes which are there so it's a you know, it's a house that we share with animals, they come in and out of the roof space and well pretty much in and out of the house. So I'll miss that this spring I'm afraid.Steve Roe:
Sounds amazing. Have you ever done a counter that serotine roost over in France?Unknown:
Well, the max that we ever had was that we could determine they all come out pretty quickly, and they do sort of tend to go back in again. So it's always difficult to know without, you know, becoming more intrusive and taking interventions. But you know, I would say between 12 and 15 was the probably the peak that we have, which was pretty good. I thought actually. I'm not at all jealous in mind after living up in Derbyshire, we get them very rarely, but yeah, we don't have any roosts here. Yeah, pretty jealous appear to be honest. Yeah, nice bats serotine as well. Really nice colouring I mean, when I've been fortunate enough to see, see them in other people's hands, you know, they are extraordinary. And, you know, all of our bat species have their own characters and appeal. Of course, a lot of people's favourite is are the long-eared's. Of course, once those ears are erected, they have a real charm to them. Some people even describe them as 'cute'. Whereas things like barbastelle, I suppose, you know, are not such an attractive aesthetically speaking bat, but, you know, it's not about looks, it's about function, their form has a function, and those ears and noses and everything else are there for a reason. And, you know, for me, I can I can overcome any, you know, physiological inadequacies in the look state. If a bats fascinating, and of course, the horseshoe bats again, you know, for many people, I suppose they wouldn't see them as a necessarily an attractive animal, but they are truly fantastic. And again, I've had the great good fortune to get to grips with those in the past at various roosts with licenced bat workers, etc. Great stuff. And obviously, we're recording this during lockdown at the moment. So for everyone who is stuck at home, if you've got any ideas for batty projects that people can be doing during lockdown. Well, bats are mobile, you know, that's the first thing and if you are in an area where there are large gardens, or perhaps you're near water, you know, things like Daubenton's will be out hunting, or even if you're in an area where bats are moving from one place to another, as we know they do across the countryside. So if you could be in a backyard or so, it's always worth going out into the garden. And and using a bat detector, if you have one. Obviously, they come in a range of prices and a range of sophistication. You don't need to spend enormous sums of money to be able to record bats and listen to what the sounds are that transform sounds that they're making. Or if you are intending to take a far keener interest in bats you could spend out and, and the equipment that we've got these days is so sophisticated, it's remarkable, but blind. If you'd have told me that when I was a young bat obsessed boy five that one day, I could have a Star Trek gadget in my hand, which would not only transform that sound and make it audible also map where the bat is, and tell me which species it was with pretty fair degree of accuracy. I'd have been astonished. So we're very fortunate in some ways, although we're presiding over declines in animals, and we have grave concerns about, you know, our bat populations as well. We do have in our hands the technology now to learn a lot more about them a lot more quickly than we did when I first instigated an interest in bats.Steve Roe:
And just picking up on that point, you were saying how things have changed since you were young boy, what else apart from the technology side of things? What have you seen change in the bat conservation movement in that time?Unknown:
Well, bat conservation, I think, I mean, I was born in 1961. By 1964, and five, I was bat obsessed. I think that I was drawn to animals which were inaccessible to me, like many young people, we are tempted by the exotic, it wasn't overseas animals. For me, it wasn't tigers and, and lions and whales. It was things which needed to be on the brink of being tangible. And when I opened my Ladybird Books in my field guides, my observers in books of British mammals, I could see the brown rats, they were in the garden, I could see foxes. Occasionally my father would point them out when we were when we were walking. But that's that was the, I mean, urban Southampton at that point was devoid of that, certainly, from my perspective. And so I would, you know, gaze longingly out of my bedroom window into the dusk, hoping to see something flipped by it never did. And I would read extensively about them. They were fascinating, because they came out at night because of their echolocation, all these things that I was grappling to understand as as a young naturalist. And then the pictures of them they just looked so so weird, you know, so alien to the animals that I could encounter. I think that that was their allure. And in order to have to locate me, my mother bought me a succession of rubber bands on pieces of elastic. They were sort of I imagined people hung them in their cars. I don't know what they do them, but, but for me, they were my plastic pets. And I had any number of these things. At that time fabricated in Hong Kong. I wish they would buy in the local pet shop. Eventually the dog would get them and chew them up and I'd be in tears. And she'd have to quickly get me another plastic bat. So I was an obsessional child, I'm an obsessional adults so and bats were there at that point and, and that interest never faded. But it was eventually sated. My father took me camping in the New Forest. And I have a very, very powerful memories of I was seven years old of what happened and where we were and how it happened. And he had a small silver torch. And we at that stage, when you were camping in the New Forest, you bought a permit, and you could camp anywhere that you weren't restricted to campsite, this was mid 60s. And we camped on the side of a little stream. I know exactly the spot, I've been back there. And and we crawled out of the tent and he shone the torch across the water. And bats presumably Daubenton's were fitting backwards and forwards. I mean, I could have burst, I was so excited. You know, the batteries eventually went flat, because I refused to go back in the tent until they did. And we'd we'd had finally, a bat encounter. I mean, I can't tell you it was like I was on another planet. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep because I was so enchanted with being out in the woods and all the noises but ya know, I eventually I dreamt of those bats. And I've never forgotten that moment with me and my dad laying there on that little bank watching those little Daubenton's flip across the water, it was just magical. And is it that lifelong interest that's made you want to become the president of BCT back in 2006? Yeah, I think so. And I think that, that, that, let's be honest about it. I mean, that was the mid 60s, that science didn't develop that quickly. I mean, it certainly lagged behind other sciences that were accessible to me, that's remained inaccessible to workers, they and they're not an easy species to work with, certainly, from a hands off point of view, and certainly in the UK, where our diversity isn't great, and most of our species are pretty small. And so when it came to sort of learning more about bats, I mean, I learned a lot more about foxes and badgers through the, you know, ecological and behavioural work that was taking place through the 70s and 80s. Then I learned about bats. And then when the technologies evolved, and and people recognised that bats were important as indicator species, and they were important, because certain species were becoming rarer, etc, then the sort of focus work and studying them really picked up. And of course, that, you know, once again, sort of picked up my ears, you know, here, I was able to learn things about animals, which were I was moving about, you know, and they were moving about in my community, I'd see them, but we still weren't learning that much about them. So I think to some extent, that's even the case today, when we look at our you know, our abilities to survey bat populations, it's still not as good as birds, we don't have the, the numbers of volunteers, we don't have the degrees of accuracy, quite yet that we have when it comes to bird surveys. So in terms of their distribution and population, exactly where we can't say that bats are on a par with birds in the UK, and the UK is one of the best known areas in the world when it comes to understanding its wildlife population. So there's still work to be done. And that I think, is a game is is part of the allure, you know, it's you get, well, I was about to say you get bored with badgers. And it would be heresy. I'll never got bored with a badger. But it's harder to learn new things about badgers than it's harder to learn new things about that. And I love learning new things.Steve Roe:
And we know what use bats are in terms of what they do for us from an insect control point of view. But what about in terms of monitoring the health of the planet's ecosystems and other ecosystem services?Unknown:
Yeah, well, as we know, you know, indicator species are incredibly important. So and very often we can make subjective judgments, which lead on to empirical research. And so that's important, too. You know, the moth snowstorm, as we now call it, when we were driving around as my father would have experienced with me, when we drove out to the New Forest that night, all those years ago, our windscreen would have been splattered with all sorts of insects, we don't see that anymore. And we don't see as many bats, obviously anymore. But by looking at the, you know, those keystone species in the in those monitored species, yeah, we can, you know, pick up an idea of what's going on having said that, in recent years, you know, people have made great inroads into understanding our insect declines. We know that, you know, certain areas that works that's been done in Germany and France, we're looking at 70% decline in insects in the last 25 years, that which is obviously gonna have a profound effect on everything that eats them, bats, birds, etc. So, you know, these are worrying times, but, you know, I'm heartened by the fact that the science is being done. It's being published and now increasingly, that information is being disseminated. You've got people like me talking about it. On television, you've got people writing about it, it makes the news, you know, I think those insect declines were very widely covered in all media. So I'm not suggesting that we're doing anything about it, or we're doing anything rapidly enough yet, but we can't claim to be ignorant anymore. And of course, when it comes to our our bat species, we have seen an enormous growth in interest in bats when I was even when I was a teenager. And I had my biology teacher who was a great mentor, John Buckley from that, and part where I was being schooled at the time, you know, he was very, you know, good on good on his bats for that time. And we would go out, and we would look at Rooster and we would flick up stones to tempt nodules to swoop down and, and all of those sorts of naughty things that naturalist did in those days, you know, and then, of course, bats got protected in with the wildlife and countryside Act, which was great. And since then, enormous numbers of people have, you know, put a lot of work into trying to look after them, not least the people who run all the bat hospitals, which are brilliant for engagement. I mean, that was one thing that I couldn't do the bats that I actually met. When I was a kid, I firsthand, smelled them got very close to them, were fruit bats hanging in the pet shop, which was still sold as pets at that point. It was years later, you know, and there was a man called David and Madge Goodall. And they were to bat workers in Hampshire, who I initially met at the Southampton Natural History Society, and they became very bat-orientated and they would look after injured bats and then use them for engagement and education. And it was only then when I was able to sort of literally get within centimetres of one of these creatures and get the kinds of views that I'd fantasised about for years. And, and that work that's done by bat hospitals is is absolutely brilliant. Because again, it is about that in engagement, they do have those animals that which unfortunately, can't go back to the world but act as great ambassadors for all of their wild counterparts. And I mean, in terms of those volunteers, what message do you have for the volunteers out there who give up their spare time for the local back groups and for the National Bat Monitoring programme?Chris Packham:
Well, I mean, all of their endeavours, British conservation would not exist without volunteers, volunteers, you know, do the vast majority of the work and they do it with extraordinary dedication and, and great expertise. And that's a legacy of the fact that we in the UK have this long standing interest in natural history. And people do immerse themselves in it. And thankfully, there are other obsessive personalities, people who like me just get into something and stay into it and, and do everything they can to learn everything about it. And because of that obsessive nature, they want to tell everyone else about it. And that's what they do. So yeah, the back workers and volunteers are a force and without their energies, we would be way, way behind. And again, you've got to contrast the UK with what's going on the continent, that history. Manifesting that sort of interest in the natural world isn't there even in France, you know, in Spain, quite good in Germany and in the Netherlands and parts of Scandinavia, but still can't hold it there torch to the UK. So, yeah, it's fantastic. And together, and we aren't, you know, under the guidance of things like the Bat Conservation Trust, which have standardised surveys, improved math, mapping techniques, etc, etc, we have begun to get a much better idea of what's happening in the world of our bats in the UK, but only through the work of those volunteers. We I mean, can you imagine we couldn't, if we were struggling to raise funds, to do some of the very basic things that we need to do for bats, we'd never come up with enough to pay all those people. So now we really must be eternally grateful for their endeavours.Unknown:
And Bat Conservation Trust is 30 years old this year, where do you see the Bat Conservation Trust in another 30 years time? Do you think they'll even still be a need for BCT? I fear that there will always be a need, I think that, you know, we will need to shape a new normal when it comes to our world following the COVID epidemic, and it will offer us opportunities to do so it will offer us opportunities to, to to have a healthier world. And I think that you know, we will have to draw some good out of this very, very bad. And what that good I think in some ways should be is we shaping a world where we as a species are not as vulnerable and that means we are shaping a world where other species are not vulnerable to because of our interlinking with them because of our unnecessary, you know, development of an understanding that we are part of the global ecosystem. And and and you know, and with that ecosystem needs to function and and things like that's a part of that we're like everything, every single thing is part of that functional ecosystem. So I fear that this will Teach us some hard lessons, I hope that we learn them. But I imagine that, you know, developing an interest in and developing an understanding of applying scientific work and protection will be required for some considerable time. So yes, I see the Bat Conservation Trust has a future, technologies will shape that there's no doubt at all, remote monitoring, as we know has come in, in the last few years, people put their little, you know, mic, essentially microphones in their back gardens, they take the data, it's crunched out, and we learn which species have flown over. It's, it's a lot more accurate. And it's a lot easier than standing there with binoculars and developing a lifelong, you know, expertise in, in trying to identify a fast moving fitting silhouette. So, you know, one can only hope that those sorts of technologies will improve. But equally, I think that we need to, you know, lead to improvements when it comes to proactive and preventive to active conservation. And when we should be working, I think a lot harder with Home Builders now to make sure that including bird and bat boxes is mandatory in the construction of new properties. That's something that hasn't happened, we still haven't got swift books into the into new buildings as a mandatory thing. So I think that the, you know, we need to ramp it up. And I imagined that the Conservation Trust may have to be a little bit more campaigning than it than it has been in recent years. And certainly, who knows, again, we've, you know, after COVID, presumably, at some point, Brexit, Brexit will come back to the table. And when it comes to, you know, re affirming all of that legislation, which protects our wildlife and and should go further, then the Bat Conservation Trust should be playing a forthright role there because of its expertise.Steve Roe:
And in terms of, you know, that Id picks upon of reshaping our world it feels in the last couple of years that the idea of rewilding has really captured the imagination of large parts of the population. Do you think the tide is turning and that we'll see rewilding projects, bringing our wildlife back to the sort of levels that they used to be? And how do you see such projects benefiting bats?Unknown:
Well, rewilding I think got off to a shaky start, because everyone was talking about wolves. You can't put wolves on a pasture field and think they're going to survive, they're going to next or make a nuisance of themselves. The pasture field is where we're going to start or whatever piece of land that we've got, whether it's upland lowland wet or whatever, but we weren't in it's got to start at the bottom is ground up process and we can't get carried away about putting in, you know, top of the food chain predators until we've got an ecosystem that can support them. So I think we wilding has come of age, I think it's sort of, you know, it's had an awakening, it's also come to its senses, and it's become a lot more pragmatic and practical. But yes, I think that rewilding as a conservation tool. I mean, essentially, it's been going on for some time anyway. But as a, as a buzzword in conservation, is it's now at the forefront. And it's one of a number of tools that we should be implementing as rapidly and as widely as possible. Because we, we know that if we put rewarded areas in the right place, and we link them together, we can build a more sustainable landscape, we know that a lot of the parts of that landscape are not maximising their capacity to support biodiversity, including bats at this point. And we know of the benefits of that. So I think the problem we have in in the UK, because we wild in Europe, it is advancing far more rapidly than we were building projects in the UK, is that the vast majority of land in the UK is privately owned. In fact, there's only one other country in the world where more land is owned by less people than the UK. So when it comes to sort of getting our hands on the land, the space to instigate these sorts of projects, it's difficult for us, we have to win the hearts and minds of those land owners and managers. And starting off by talking about releasing wolves didn't, you know, didn't, you know, appease them? So, I think that, you know, it's an educational exercise that we need to go through, but when you see projects like the neck project, and and you know, Cairngorms connect up in Scotland, and various others as well, which are doing such amazing things in terms of their conservation, then, you know, hopefully, you know, we'll soon follow their lead and everyone else will, will be doing this.Steve Roe:
And obviously, you mentioned the next day there, which you know, is a farm we see lots of headlines at the moment saying that changes in farming practices have resulted in moral in wildlife declines. Do you think that farming practices will change to accommodate wildlife more than they currently are in the future?Unknown:
I would never aspire to sort of go into politics and I don't want to rule anyone. But if you could give me a week as a minister of farming, I think I could probably reshape the world so it was better for farmers and better for wildlife. Not on my own. I'm not that an on campus expert on these things. But I could I could find some experts and build a team. But you know, it's very clear that 86% The UK is landscape is farmed and forested and farm farming practices, not farmers. But farming practices have led to enormous collapses in biodiversity as it's intensified, and its dependence upon chemicals has grown and grown and grown. Now, we all know that there are environmental stewardship schemes in place, we all know that they're difficult for farmers to implement, that they're not paid enough. And that the you know, the often those schemes aren't suitable for the lands that they do. But I mean, I go on to, you know, increasing numbers of farms, where the motivated farmers, those who have a keen interest in the landscape, and its sustainability and their future and that of their family, are creating great places for wildlife. The problem is that in terms of the land area that they are affecting, it's still not big enough to make a significant difference. But there were, it's not just Knepp there are plenty of other farms, Martin Line that, you know, wildlife friendly farming. Henry Edmonds at Charlton is doing a great thing. So we're any number of farmers out there doing amazing things, but they struggle, because essentially, we don't support them, you know, and that's me and you and everyone else who rushes down to the supermarket to buy cheap food from overseas, and not put our pounds in the pocket of the British farmer who is really struggling. So I think that, you know, it's a bit tricky for conservationists to go bang on the farmhouse door, saying, What do you do this? Will you do that the other one, we're not actually helping those farmers out. And I think there's a whole reappraisal of the way that the public interacts with interacts with farming, that needs to change as well. And we do really need to be working together and supporting our farmers, they're having a really, really tough time. Here we are in 2020, and we're still selling New Zealand lamb that's come from the other side of the world, in the our supermarkets when British sheep farmers can't make a profit. Well, frankly, as I said, I'm not a politician, but that's insane. It's insane for so many reasons. So I think again, you know, this should be a time where we, you know, rebuild, we establish very important working relationships with our farmers. And that's not just the conservationists, that's all of us, every single one of us. One of the lasting images shared in the press from the People's War for wildlife was a giant bat flying above the crowds of people marching through Whitehall. Do you think government have paid attention to the growing number of peaceful demonstration taking place, and will they make any real difference to nature? The bat was, was an absolute highlight, it was it was sensational, to be quite honest with you, it was it was part of the manifestation of a dream come true for me to be quite honest with you. And it was totemic there, not least foo is artistic endeavour, because it was it was a magnificent piece of portable sculpture. But also because it was a bat. And people have learned to love bats. And and we know how vulnerable they are and how fragile they are. So it was it was a perfect person and, you know, motif, if you like for that people's walk for wildlife? And yes, I think we have I mean, look at extinction rebellion, whether you agree with their methods or not, you can't disagree with the fact that they have led to the, you know, our government's signing up to a climate and environment emergency, I'm certain that wouldn't have happened happened without those peaceful demonstrations. And from my perspective, as long as they are peaceful, as long as they are creative, and imaginative, and they don't just keep doing the same thing over and over again. So they get boring, then I think that people power in its very simple terms has a role to play, we, you know, we are living in a time where our politics has been horrifically polarised and and and looking after the climate, and, you know, biodiversity loss is not the top of of many of our leaders agenda. I'm talking globally here. And we've got, you know, Scott Morrison, we've got Bolsonaro, we've got Trump, we've yet to see obviously, what you know, Boris Johnson and his team will do because they've, you know, had to bust through Brexit and fallen very hard on the face of COVID-19. So we can't prejudge them at this point. But I mean, I have grave fears that you know, they will ever put wildlife and the environment in the right place when it comes to priorities. So we we democratically will have to raise our voices and ask them to do so and and I think there'll be an increasing need for that and and we'll see it happen. Look at the strength that's been garnered by the Youth Climate awareness programmes that have come up for this for future and so on and so forth. They've changed the world, and they've changed their world. And that is something to be applauded and supported from my perspective. Our chair on the board of trustees, Abigail Entwhistle has a question that she'd like to ask which is what can we do to help the man on the street love bats as much as we do? It's about making those cultural connections. I I think really, you know, a lot of people have become disconnected from all wildlife. You know, it's something almost like, you know, on a Sunday, you fancy some art, you go to an art gallery, you fancy some history, you go to a museum or a stately home, you fancy some wildlife, you go to a nature reserve, even we naturalist have kind of forgotten that we should have an expectation that nature is all around us. And we live amongst it. But we've started to partition it. And as a consequence of that further disconnected from it, so I think it's about drawing people back to nature, and drawing them to it through things which they engage with far more readily. So that's what they do in school, through education is what they do in work through whatever work they're doing. And it's what they do in their leisure time. You know, it would be fantastic. If, you know, the Premier League on, you know, one weekend a year, rather than wear their sponsors, you know, badges on their shirts, or, you know, UK, NGO charity logos, you know, wouldn't it be great if Manchester United trotted out onto that green pitch with the Bat Conservation Trust logo? And and the 65,000 people in the stands, some of whom I'm sure would have been into bats, a small percentage would all suddenly think at Conservation Trust. What's that about? So that's a highfalutin idea. But I think we've got to use those sorts of things. Remember, you are talking to someone who grew up on Sunday afternoon as a young man watching Batman and TV with Robin. And, of course, there was little scientific, or Chiropteran active accuracy between the antics of, of Bruce Wayne, etc. But you know, that's need to be part of our culture, we need to see them in everyday life. And if that isn't the real animal, that's that manifests station of it that we can connect with. So you know, it's about engaging on social media, it's all of those things that we need to do. And this is across the whole spectrum.Steve Roe:
Are there any UK back species you've not seen yet that you'd still love to?Unknown:
Yes, let's just think which UK back species haven't I seen? I did look for the Mouse-eared bat on one occasion. That was when there was the one animal hanging in that tunnel in the south of England. And we were pretty certain where it was going to be. And I went out with some, some bat experts, and I failed to see it. It was. I mean, it was bat twitching. It was it was naughty, but I so desperately wanted to see that animal, you know, that animal was when you think about it, it was one of the most famous animals that no one had ever seen. At any time. Everyone talked about that one lonely bat in the tunnel. You know, year in, year out year in year out, everyone kind of knew it was there somewhere. And then eventually, I had the opportunity to, to go and see it. And, and filed. So you know, that was enormously disappointing. I can't think of any of the others that I mean, I've done quite well, because one of the benefits of making wildlife TV programmes that people always imagine it's like, you get to go to all these places. Of course, that's a privilege. The second thing they imagined is that you get to see all the species. And yes, of course, again, that's a privilege. The best thing, however, is neither of those, the best thing is that you meet people all the time who know more about something than you do, but because you're making a TV programme, they tell you at all. So I'm very fortunate in in great part that my life has been a living lecture. And I get to meet people all the time, who tell me fascinating things about whatever it is we've turned up to film. And over the years yeah, we've slept on quite a bit of back filming and it's been always a real treat and the experts come in and do their stuff back photography, there's a whole load of stuff that bat lose we did things with with those on one occasion in Sussex, which will remarkable a contraption that a scientist have made, put it out in the woods and the back Stein's were just flying in it was it was absolutely astonishing. Yeah, fantastic. And I do have favourite, I've got to say I suppose 13 Two out there because I love the colour. Often they're beautiful and a light sort of shape with their heads. But yeah, I'm going to succumb and go for the queue and say that brown long eared I just that moment when the bat worker just got them in the hospital knowing the hand and they call up between their finger and some and though he is a down and they look a bit like a dog that's been told. And then all of a sudden their ears come up and they completely transform into one of the most remarkable animals. It's just astonishing. And then when you see them, again, using night vision equipment, I have been able to watch them when they're flitting around the outside of trees, picking off beetles and crickets and so on and so forth. It's just a stone machine. And you know that those sauteing bats over in your house in France and seen seen those Daubenton's on the river in the New Forest, what's been your best experience and why?Chris Packham:
I love one night, when we were up in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, and there was some cattle out in the fields, and we had a thermal camera. And we've been watching the roost of lesser horseshoe bats. And they came out and disappeared, and then we couldn't find them. And it was we were a bit disappointed and was getting later and colder. And then all of a sudden, a group of them turned up, and they started flying round and round of Friesian cow that was standing in the pasture. And for a moment, they were sort of orbiting the cow like electrons around an atom, and they were flying beneath its legs and all about its head. And, and we had astonishing views of them in terms of the clarity. And that was just absolutely magic we'd waited a long time for it's always good to wait for those sort of things, that happens immediately can be disappointing, because so a little bit of pain and patience is required. And it turned out and I remember thinking that this was the perfect fusion of a rare animal, which was difficult to watch behaving naturally. But it was being facilitated by state of the art technology, this thing called the cell X camera, which was this was one of the very first times that we were able to use it for making television programmes. And I just sort of thought at that point, what an enormous privilege if the young Chris, laying on the banks of the river with his father all those years ago, would have known that, at some point, you know, he was a camera that could see and you see heat and in total darkness, and you could witness this wonderful, simple but wonderful behaviour, then again, you know, the best for the second time, I think, to be honest with you. So, yeah, I mean, it's it's interesting days, and it's such a paradox and irony for naturalist these days. So many things, you know, so many problems, and yet so many more opportunities because of technology and access to some of the species that we care about.Steve Roe:
And finally, what is it about the work of BCT, that makes you want to support it in the way that you do?Unknown:
I like this would probably be unpopular, but my maths is, say what I think I've always been drawn to, to geeky people, I you know, it doesn't really matter whether they're washing machine geeks, you know, Superwinch Spitfire geeks, or, or railway geeks, or bat geeks, I, I like people who who know a tremendous amount about a little but want to talk a lot about it. And I love the atmosphere of them all coming together in a community where the collective energy is virtually uncontrollable. And they all just want to tell all of their stories or their anecdotes, and that whenever I mix with people from BCT soin be offended now that I've called them geeks, you know, but it's that sort of focus, really. And I think, you know, bats require a special energy and dedication, they aren't the most accessible animals, you know, they're not hedgehogs, they're not Badgers, both of which are nocturnal species, but so much easier to encounter and understand that, you know, to understand bats, and to learn from them in the field, you really have to strive that really takes effort, and therefore will focus and I suppose that, you know, on the geek ladder, the bat workers are above the hedgehog and badger workers, I'm gonna get myself in trouble for this. But, you know, it's that really, and again, I like small NGOs, you know, they could they sort of stay on message, they, they do what they say on the can, some of the other, larger NGOs tend to get lost occasionally, and they get they corporatize. And they maybe they lose focus, but, you know, things like Bat Conservation Trust, amphibian and reptile conservation, Butterfly Conservation, you know, the necessarily sort of restricted by the sort of general and families that they're looking after. But that doesn't mean that they don't do amazing things. And I think BCT are doing amazing things. And, and certainly when it comes to developing a better understanding of, of our bat foreigner in the UK, so it's a privilege to be a President. As I say, it's a lifelong interest. I don't consider myself a bat expert. I always learn more than I can tell other people, but I find that there's a real joy in that. Chris, I know listeners, listeners will love having that insight from you, even though you've called us all geeks. So thank you so much for coming on the show.Chris Packham:
Geeks are wonderful. We should we should wear our expertise with and knowledge with pride. You know, we've lived in an age when, you know, certain politicians have said I'm sick of experts. Well, you know, experts are gonna get us out of every mess that we get ourselves into. They always have, you know, at the end of the day, you know, it's our scientist that will save that day and it's our science. That will save our bat days. And not all scientists are in universities that are paid. They are those bat volunteers. They are those bat workers. And that's why I salute them.Unknown:
Absolutely. Chris Packham, President of BCT Thank you very much. You're most welcome. You're most welcome. And a huge thank you to Chris for taking time out of his day to come on the show. You can currently catch Chris presents an autumn watch weeknights on BBC Two at eight o'clock. And to find your local back geeks, sorry groups, we've put a link in the show notes. We're back in two weeks time with one of the butterfly brothers John Ashton, talking about how you can make your garden back friendly. Don't forget to subscribe to BatChat and that will ensure the next episode will automatically download onto your device when it's available. Until then, happy Halloween.