North Wales Wildlife Trust took over the management of Gwaith Powdwr nature reserve, near Penrhyndeudraeth, from ICI in 1998. This former explosives factory, which played an important role in both world wars, was then designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 2004 due to the presence of lesser horseshoe bat roosts in the buildings, bomb shelters and tunnels that remained after decommissioning.
Regular surveys since then have showed that the site was important for the bat’s hibernation, foraging, commuting to and from other roosts and social behaviour, but that there wasn’t a maternity roost where the females gather to have their young in summer.
Providing the right conditions for a maternity roost has been a priority for the North Wales Wildlife Trust since taking over the reserve, not an easy task for a species that can be quite fussy when it comes to their temperature, humidity, and general habitat requirements!
This summer, probably helped in part by the prolonged period of hot weather in June, four lesser horseshoes with their single youngster were recorded for the first time in a former explosive storage shed reroofed back in 2015. It is possible that these bats may have come from another, possibly disturbed, maternity roost. However, it is hoped that they will now return year after year to swell the population at this fascinating post-industrial nature reserve…watch this space!