The 2 Billies
Name: Pipistrelle bat
Artist: The 2 Billies
» Download the full track [12.3mb, MP3]
The 2 Billies is a collective of musicians from far and wide who didn’t give up the day job.
Tracing its origins to a garden in North Norfolk, the band has undergone various line-up changes, including a legendary non-performing group in the late nineties.
Many members have parted amicably to pursue solo projects such as Arctic Exploration, Headmastering, doing the screams on computer games, and even working at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.
Now the band’s bright flame has been rekindled by their original bass player and the things he keeps in his shed. The 2 Billies now adopt a DIY approach to producing one-off home-grown tunes to a secret family recipe, of the kind you might pick up at the village fete if they were jams or pickles.
The 2 Billies were inspired by the calls of the pipistrelle bat which you can hear in the woodland at St Fagans National History Museum.
About the track, Trevor Bailey of The 2 Billies:
“On colder days, bats can go into a state called torpor when they’re cool and inactive – so I thought this justified some weird snoring sounds at the start of the track.
I recorded pipistrelle bat echo-location calls using a bat detector that shifts sounds to lower frequencies where we can hear them. Bats can map their surroundings and catch insects in the dark by listening to the echoes from their calls. They sweep from low to high frequencies and back - I tried to do something similar in the background of the track by bashing on guitar strings.
About halfway through the track the bat flies into a cave to feed insects to its baby. A pair of pipistrelles raise only one young each year. It has its own unique squeak so the parents can tell who’s who amongst all the nattering at a roost site. Pipistrelles actually prefer to roost in trees and buildings, but I needed an excuse to add some river sounds I had, and turn the reverb up to 11.”
St Fagans is home to some of Britain’s most endangered mammals, including bats.
The woodlands and traditional farm buildings look fantastic at any time of year and provide the perfect habitat for bats.
Pipistrelles are the bats that you are most likely to see in Britain. They appear fast and jerky in flight as they dodge about pursuing small insects, which the bats catch and eat in flight. A single pipistrelle may consume up to 3,000 insects in a night!
After dark, the air is filled with the calls of bats, but you can only hear them using specialist bat detectors. The strange ‘plippy ploppy’ noise you hear in The 2 Billies track is the call of a pipistrelle bat. Trevor made the recording whilst attending one of St. Fagans’ many, after-dark, bat walks and surveys.
The majority of the UK bat species are either endangered or threatened by extinction. Pipistrelles have declined, probably as a result of modern agricultural practices. Their reliance on buildings makes them vulnerable to renovation work, exclusion and toxic remedial timber treatment chemicals.
See the ‘Exploring Our Woodlands’ events page during the summer to find out about our family bat walks or help us with a bat survey.
Bats regularly seen at St. Fagans: Lesser Horseshoe, Pipistrelle, Brown Long Earred, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s and Noctule Bats.