Last year, whilst introducing a family to Weird Cave (one of the many caves we frequent) during a late afternoon coasteer – we spotted a bat! The bat was circling high up above us in the roof of the cave. We could see it was one of the larger species and maybe the now quite rare Greater Horseshoe Bat!
Eager to not disturb the beast we quietly left. A couple of our team have some experience with ecology and conservation in the bat-realm and realised the sighting might be quite important and quite sensitive. So we let all our guides know that the cave and it’s possible inhabitants were to be given a wide berth.
We got in touch with Ecoleg – an ecology consultancy run by Elliot and Ben, bat experts from Cardiff – in no time at all we’d put together an investigatory mission!
We voyaged out to the cave via SUP-coasteer from a nearby beach, Elliot and Ben armed with bat-o-scopes (ultrasonic microphones that detect and identify bat sounds) and DNA sampling kits for any guano (bat plop) we found. We carefully entered the cave. On coasteers we’d generally just floated in the outer chamber (it was pitch dark further back) but equipped with lights we investigated deeper…
All of us guides had a sense that Weird Cave might go back a bit, but we had no idea how far! The wet, tidal, outer chamber was joined by a high corridor to several apparently completely dry and convoluted inner galleries with high ceilings full of nooks and crannies and tunnels – perfect for bats! Elliot and Ben quickly clocked the discolouration that indicates bat presence around several holes and so with Bat Confirmation we left.
The guys were VERY excited by what we’d found. They thought it was not only possible that the cave could be home to a significant population, but that it might even be a maternity roost (making it of national importance). After getting in touch with the National Trust (who are resposible for conservation on the headland) we made plans to revist the cave for Phase 2 – when we’d place static detectors high on the cave walls to record any activity and set up camp outside of the cave one evening to actually count emerging bats.
At Tenby Adventure, we get to do a lot of cool stuff – it’s our job! But it’s been amazing to team up with Ecoleg and – with Tenby Adventure providing access and safety and Ecoleg providing expertise – help expand knowledge of coastal bat populations and hopefully help make sure these incredible creatures florish undisturbed in the depths of Weird Cave.