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Bats and Truffles

Britannia Royal Naval College
Example of a truffle found within the College grounds

Lesser Horshoe bat

Lesser Horshoe bat 
The Britannia Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Aston Webb and built in the early 1900s on the banks of the beautiful River Dart. The college has been the home for all naval officers joining the Royal Navy, when Admiral Sir Jimmy Fisher decided it was better to provide thirteen year old young sons of gentlemen with an introduction on land to the rigours of a sea-going life. Since then, BRNC has become a jewel in the crown of the glorious South Hams of Devon. It has become well known not just for the impressive building, but also the ground in which it sits which is home to an abundance of wildlife. Parts of the estate are left untouched for most of the year as designated conservation areas, The bird population includes migratory redwings, bramblings, warblers and the occasional Siskin. The college grounds are home to the usual range of south coast residents, such as woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches, together with the occasional egret, kingfishers and wildfowl on the River Dart.

In addition BRNC does play host to a resident colony of bats. For more than ten years now, a colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats have been in residence in the service tunnels below the college buildings. Numbers are estimated at around 40, During the Spring, Summer and Autumn the bats live and breed beneath the Clock Tower; venturing out at night to take advantage of the abundant insect life which exists over the wooded slopes and mud flats of the Dart. When Winter arrives and food becomes scarce, the bats move their roost to the cooler regions of the tunnels below the grassy mounds of the Sandquay slope. Here their movements are much more difficult to observe and they are left largely undisturbed to continue its winter semi-hibernation.

One final unexpected discovery has been the gastronomic delicacy of truffles! This unexpected bounty was literally unearthed by a family of grey squirrels. The truffles found so far have a value of over £100.