Moth & bat night at St. Augustine’s Church, Penarth

St. Augustine's Church

In 2015 we were approached by the Friends of St. Augustine’s Church in Penarth in order to carry out an ecological appraisal of the churchyard in order to ascertain what wildlife was present and to advise on how to optimise the churchyard for wildlife and the people of Penarth.

The grade 1 listed church stands in a magnificent position overlooking Cardiff and is surrounded by a churchyard of approximately an acre which is now closed for burials. The churchyard contains areas of rough grassland, meadow habitat, small patches of scrub and mature trees which all offer great potential for wildlife.

Bat Walks at the Church

Since the initial appraisal, we have continued to run occasional walks and talks for the Friends and local people in order to share how wonderful churchyards can be for wildlife if they are not kept too neat and tidy. The latest event we ran was a well-attended bat and moth night on a windy and showery Saturday in September. Despite the less than ideal conditions there was plenty of bat activity (there is an active roost within the church) with both Common and Soprano Pipistrelles actively feeding on the numerous insects which use the churchyard. These insects would not be present in such large numbers if areas of the churchyard weren’t managed with wildlife in mind. The native grasses and flowering plants offer food and shelter for butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, hoverflies and countless others, particularly small flying insects that the pipistrelles rely on. A few Noctule bats were also heard on the detectors feeding on larger insects such as moths that were flying overhead.

It was rather too windy to be ideal conditions for moth trapping, though the mild temperature meant that there were plenty attracted to the trap that could be shown to the attendees in order to convince them not all moths were little brown jobs…

Recordings

Only 16 species were recorded in the 2 hours we were there but some attractive autumnal moths were caught including Brimstones, Angle Shades, Centre-barred Sallow and Large Ranunculus. The most numerous moth species was Square-Spot Rustic whose caterpillars feed on grasses so are only flourishing due to the areas that are being left uncut for the summer. Hopefully we will continue to visit the churchyard, gathering more information on species that are inhabiting it and are benefitting from the sympathetic management that the Friends are carrying out.

If you would like to attend our next bat walk or would like to see what other events we're holding, you can find them all on our event's page.