In the ancient graveyard of St Augustines Church last night there were strange lights, odd noises – and dark figures to be seen moving amongst the tombstones .
More than thirty local residents of all ages – armed with torches – had turned out explore the churchyard after dark in a bid to locate and identify some of St Augustine’s nocturnal wildlife population – specifically bats and moths.
The “Bat and Moth Night” was organised by the charity the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales one of whose officers, Lorna Baggett, briefed the searchers on what to look out for and the species they would be likely to come across. She said that a population of pipistrelle bats is known to roost in a corner of St Augustine’s churchyard.
Hand-held electronic “bat detectors” were issued which were able to pick-up the ultrasonic sonar screeches of St Augustine’s bat-population – sounds which are normally inaudible to the human ear . The detectors also had a direction-funding facility on them giving users an idea where to look to see bats in flight.
In the north of the churchyard a “moth trap” had been set up by Vaughan Matthews who is the conservation officer at the Wildlife Trust. This emitted a powerful light to attract local moths to alight on a white sheet where they could be identified
Vaughan gave the group a briefing on the types of moth to be found in the area and hoped that the trap would have attracted a number of interesting species by the end of the evening.
The Moth and Bat Night provided Penarthians with a fascinating opportunity to see, hear – and marvel at – some of the wide variety of wildlife in the area in its local habitat, again underscoring the importance of retaining what remains of the ancient wooded areas of the town.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales covers the entire area from Aberystwyth to Cardiff and superintends more than 50 wildlife reserves. Its website is on http://www.welshwildlife.org/