Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chafford Gorges

Many of you will know our own Wildlife and Nature guru, Tajinder Lachhar, who lost her job as a Redbridge Nature Conservation Ranger last year due to the Council’s “austerity budget” which didn't affect "front line services". But you will be pleased to know that she has found another job in the same field and here she is writing about her favourite subject – Tajinder’s Bats.

Bats at Chafford Gorge

I am the new Warden at Chafford Gorges Nature Park. In my last role, I had done bat surveys for planning applications and walks for the public.

In January 2012, during my first week at work, I was invited to attend a survey of a winter bat roost. Now, most sensible women would probably freak because (i) I would be going into dark places such as caves and bunkers and (ii) with two men I had never met before. However, these were exceptional circumstances. One of them was a bat ecologist and in the conservation world you don’t get many opportunities to work alongside one. So, off I went. I have to say, you definitely need a great deal of skill to look between the gaps and differentiate between different limbs and body parts to work out how many bats are all crammed in together. Pat Hatch would ask how many bats I saw and he always counted more than I did. He’d say: ‘didn’t you see the one behind?’ Clearly many years of experience stood between Pat and this newbie Warden.

Finding sleeping bats in various nooks and crannies has to be the highlight of any bat survey work I’ve ever done. Also, it has definitely been the highlight of my job at Chafford so far. The most amazing thing we discovered was a first site record for a brown long eared bat. Other species present are common pips, Daubentons and Natterers.


I was expecting a photograph like this ...

... only with Bats. But since that was not forthcoming you will have to make do with a picture of the visitor center above right.

Redbridge’s loss, Chafford’s gain. Tajinder has offered to give a free guided walk of the Gorges for B21 in the summer, so if you are interested please let me know as numbers will be limited.

UPDATE: Tajinder has now sent me a photograph of a Natterer's Bat hibernating in the bunker in Grays Chalk Quarry. The photo was taken by Martin Pugh in 2010.

click on image to enlarge


  1. Nice to hear from Tajinder.
    I still remember her good advice on keeping birds well-fed and watered (with proper seeds, of course and clean water!).
    I googled the Chafford Gorges, expecting them to be far away but, they are as close as Lakeside. (Not that I shop anywhere but Sainsbury's for the birdseeds!)

    1. I've long believed that if you keep birds fed and watered they won't stray very far.

    2. Not if their nestegg gets raided by a Magpie or some other predaTORY bird or animal ...