Night time nature at Penrose

Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in flight over silver birch branch

A walk through Penrose at dusk opens new possibilities for wildlife watching. Whether it’s a Barn Owl screeching, a bat fluttering over head or a Roe deer browsing in the woodlands, you're almost guaranteed to encounter something.

Both the Lesser and Greater Horseshoe bats are found at Penrose, which are the only two species to follow the stereotypical hanging upside-down method when roosting.  In 2015 we discovered that Penrose is home to the most south-westerly maternity roost for Greater horseshoe in the country. They use a traditional barn on the estate during the summer to breed and rear their young. The old buildings and barns provide an ideal habitat for other species of bat as well, however in the winter, most will find old mine adits or cavities in ancient trees to hibernate. One of the biggest roosts we have is in the loft of one of our holiday cottages, with over 600 Soprano Pipistrelles. It’s a spectacular sight to watch them emerge at dusk! Having been on the planet for 50 million years, bats are now sadly in decline due to a number of reasons, including the use of pesticides in intensive agriculture  reducing the amount of insect food available.

A Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernates in a cave
Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernating in cave

Owls are on the hunt for a meal bigger than an insect. The three breeding pairs of Barn Owls at Penrose favour the field voles found in the parkland and surrounding agricultural fields, which are just a short hop from their nesting sites in traditional barns. Being a woodland bird, the Tawny Owl diet is much more varied, even taking worms and beetles. You will find Tawny Owls nesting in hollows in ancient trees in Penrose woods and sometimes the old nests of magpies and crows.

A barn owl, flying low with it's prey
A low flying owl flying with it's prey

Roe deer are being seen more often at Penrose, at dusk and dawn browsing on shrubs at the edge of woodland, and an otter is being regularly spotted after a 20 year absence from Loe Pool.

A deer caught on a hidden wildlife camera at Penrose
A deer grazing at Penrose

The ranger team works hard to ensure the habitats in which these key species live are thriving. We focus our conservation work on the principle that a rich mosaic of well-managed, well joined up habitats will support healthy ecosystems. Take a stroll at dusk through Penrose woodland and parkland and experience healthy habitats rich in wildlife for yourself, just don’t forget your torch!

An otter caught on a secret wildlife camera at Penrose
An otter at Penrose captured on a wildlife camera