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Bats in the attic

Bats in the loft

One day I arrived at work and was told to leave my motorbike in the stores and travel with Martin out to Bedale in North Yorkshire, an emergency alteration of an alarm had come in and we were to complete the work in a day.

Arriving in Bedale, we drove down the main high street which is lined with shops on both sides with parking out front, it was a typical Yorkshire market town complete with pubs, café’s, and a nice church.

The job was at a farmhouse on the outskirts of the town, when we arrived there were several vans in the driveway, one was a builder, another was from the council and another was from a local bat protection agency which was a volunteer organisation studying bat populations.

The builder had disturbed a colony of Pipistrelle bats that the property owner was previously unaware existed. A new extension had enclosed the side of the house, blocking access for the bats to the main house roof space where they were living as a small colony.

The owner of the house took this seriously and had asked us to attend to reroute all the alarm cables which had previously run through the loft, and the electrician was already working to achieve the same with the mains cables. Fortunately, the bats had left the roost and then been shut out by the building alteration, so we would not disturb them whilst making the alterations required.

The electrical contractors had installed double walled trunking behind the visible beams in the bedrooms to conceal the cables to be moved from the loft. It was clear that the owner, under guidance from the voluntary bat researchers, was intending to re-open the roost, but wanted everything removed from the loft space so that they would never need to disturb them again.

Over lunch, Martin and myself talked to the guy from the bat volunteer service, he had a box and microphone with headset and he showed us where the colony was, wearing the headset and pointing the microphone at a nearby tree, you could hear a whole series of chirps and clicks, this was the colony. It required special equipment to lower the frequencies of their chatter to that audible by humans. He assured us that the bats would return to the loft space as soon as they could gain access again.

We completed the work and when Martin presented the paperwork for signing, he could not resist a bit of cheek, he said “you must have bats in the belfry to pay for these alterations”. The customer grinned and groaned as his comment sunk in.

The work had taken an hour or so longer than expected, hence when we returned to the stores it was all locked up with my motorbike inside, I had to catch the bus home and the bus to work the next morning. 

I did raise this inconvenience with my favourite supervisor, Gordon, who had told me to leave the motorbike in the stores, but the issue fell on deaf ears, I wondered if I had borrowed the volunteer bat conservationists’ headset and microphone and given it to Gordon before the conversation if he may have understood me better.