Spixworth youngsters go batty for bats despite rain

Bats have been associated with the supernatural long before Bram Stoker's novel Dracula appeared in print in 1897, but sinister myths about the creatures of the night have been dispelled at a church near Norwich.

Inquisitive youngsters eager to find out more about the flying animals braved the torrential tropical downpour to flock to St Peter's Church in Buxton Road, Spixworth, with their parents for a Bat Watch event.

The event, which gave children the chance to learn about bats as well as take part in a range of fun-filled bat activities, was organised by Reverend Andrew Beane, rector of Spixworth, Crostwick and Horsham St Faith.

He said: 'The congregation at Spixworth church shares the building with a colony of Pipistrelle bats. In the winter they are hibernating, but at this time of year they're flying around because the babies are all being born and the adults are out, either feeding or teaching their babies to feed.

'We wanted to do something for the children in the summer and for the past four years we've been running Bat Watch.'

The bats do pose a bit of a problem to the church, because of the mess they make, but Rev Beane said they also offered children from schools in the area a great opportunity to study the animals, which include the rarer soprano pipistrelle, pictured, and see them in their own habitat.

Dozens of youngsters attended yesterday's event and were joined by members of the Norwich Bat Group and the Norfolk Bat Group, who brought along monitoring equipment so people could listen to the animals as they flew over the skies of Spixworth for the night.

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Valli Savory, 34, from Hevingham, took her children, Peter, 10, and Jasmine, six, to the event. She said: 'We've been here the year before last. My children go to Horsham St Faith Primary school, where Andrew is a governor. They love Bat Watch. They enjoy seeing the bats and seeing their friends.'

As well as seeing the bats, those attending the event, most of whom were aged between five and 11-years-old, took part in art and craft games and tucked into some batty themed food.

John Goldsmith, a member of the Norfolk Bat Group, said: 'I personally have been interested in bats in the county since 1964. It's brilliant to see so many young children here.'

To find out more about other events taking part at the church, telephone 01603 898258, or you can log onto www.spixworthchurch. org.uk

Are you planning a fun filled animal event? Call Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk