Hi batty friends!
Lots to update you on this month, with reports, and an urgent request from help from the BCT
Urgent call to action!
The group received an URGENT call to action from the BCT this week regarding the government’s centrepiece environmental legislation, the Environment Bill. Full details below. To get involved directly in this important campaign sign up here:
Bat Box checks
Cath and other members checked 20 boxes at Comeytrowe Park and Longrun Meadow on 21st Sept, and were happy to found a male Common Pipistrelle in a box at Longrun. Photos on our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/somersetbat/
Group Donation to “Ringing the Changes”
The committee have this month agreed to make a £500 donation to the BCT appeal to help fund a National database for Bat ring numbers. Details of this important and exciting project below, and they would welcome any other donations to the project.
Lastly also copied below is an update from the BCT on the exciting Bats in Churches project, and you can find lots more information in the Latest Bat Group Bulletin Sept 2019 #170
===== Urgent call to action on the Environment Bil ====
We expect the government’s centrepiece environmental legislation, the Environment Bill, to have its first reading in the House of Commons very soon. This legislation is the government’s answer to an urgent environmental need and is meant to be a landmark commitment to protecting and improving the environment for future generations. We want to make sure that the Environment Bill meets these objectives and is fit for purpose to protect bats and their habitats. But to do this we need your help!
We want to be ready to respond to the Bill quickly when it is presented to parliament, here are three things you can do to help us prepare:
- We plan to continue sending your, bat group contact, information and calls to action as they become available. . We also plan to have a webpage that is regularly updated with information and will share that with you via the normal bat group bulletin.
- Please share this email with bat group members and encourage anyone who wants to receive further information and get involved directly in this important campaign to sign up here:
- Can you let us know if you already have an existing relationship or contact with your local MP or with any ministers. Personal contacts like this will be particularly valuable. Please email: CEO@bats.org.uk
Whilst the Environment Bill refers principally to England, it also covers elements that that are not devolved to the countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We also want to make sure that high standards of environmental protection and governance are at least maintained, if not improved upon, across all the countries of the UK. Therefore it will be important to make sure that the legislation in the other countries is also fit for purpose. Every voice will make a difference in our campaign to protect and enhance our environment at this critical time for nature and the climate.
Thank you for your support and we will be in touch again soon.
Bat Conservation Trust
========== Ringing the Changes Project ==========
Dear Bat Groups,
I am delighted to let you know that BCT is finally in a position to move forward with our Ringing the Changes Project, which aims to establish a set of guidelines and a centralised database for bat ringing in the UK. We will be issuing a tender for the new database this autumn and are beginning to put together a panel of experts to help with the guidelines.
We are very grateful for the promise of substantial financial support for the project from South Lancashire Bat Group (SLBG) and also to the other bat groups that have already made donations towards this important work. However, we still have a shortfall for the overall project budget of about £10,000 (and this is even greater when we consider the ongoing running costs of a centralised ringing database in the coming years). We are therefore sending out this appeal (which will be going direct to ringers as well being sent to bat groups) to help raise the remaining funds we need.
Bat ringing is a long established research technique in the UK that has become more widely used in recent years. A growing number of researchers, bat groups and consultants are involved in long-term ringing projects. Despite this increase in use and the requirement of centralised recording systems in accordance with EUROBATS Resolution No. 4.6 in 2003 (Guidelines for the Issue of Permits for the Capture and Study of Captured Wild Bats), there is no centralised database for ringing records (only ring sales) and no specific UK-wide guidelines on ringing. BCT took over ring sales from the Mammal Society (MS) in September 2012 (prior to MS they had been administered by Dr Bob Stebbings).
Why do we need a ringing database and guidelines?
A range of techniques are used in applying bat rings and guidelines would allow effective sharing of expertise and agreed best practice. A national database would enable reporting on critical information that is currently unavailable, such as total numbers of bats ringed, ringing injuries, recapture rates and species longevity. Such information would support other conservation work by providing a national context for local data. It will also facilitate the sharing of recovery information where ringed bats are found by other people, for example members of the public. Currently found ringed bats are matched through sales data, which provides no information on when bats were ringed and only the broadest information on where (anything from site to county or even country!). More effective methods for matching ringed bats with ringers will facilitate sharing of valuable recapture data.
Where have we got to so far?
Whilst attempts in the 1980s to centralise bat ringing records were not successful, agreement in principle to both guidelines and a database was gained from attendees (including very experienced ringers) of a bat ringing workshop at the 2013 National Bat Conference. This was reinforced and further developed during Phase 1 of the Ringing the Changes Project (funded by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species). Through a questionnaire to ringers and a one day workshop in February 2015, agreement was reached on the broad content of bat ringing guidelines and of a centralised database.
The minimum compulsory content (enforced through licensing) of a centralised database of ringed bats was decided upon and the frequency of reporting was also agreed. Consideration was given to how people would like to be able to enter data as well as some of the optional information that people may wish to provide (for example on recaptures). Agreement was also reached on data sharing, ensuring this was within the control of the people providing information. During Phase 1 of the Project the main Statutory Nature Conservation Organisations (SNCOs; the relevant licensing authorities) also indicated their support of these aims and their willingness to include appropriate conditions in licences for ringing activities to ensure the submission of records.
Unfortunately our second application to PTES for further funding to complete the project was unsuccessful. Since then capacity issues and lack of funding have delayed further progress. We have resolved the capacity issues and the pledge from SLBG plus the donations from other groups mean we are finally in a position to deliver the project.
What will happen next?
Thanks to a promise of funding from SLBG and the donations received from other groups, we are now beginning Phase 2 of the Ringing the Changes Project. It is expected to take about a year. The objectives for the project are to:
- Write, edit, review, publish and disseminate a single set of guidelines for ringing bats in the UK.
- Design, test and set-up a centralised ringing UK bat ringing database.
We are grateful for any financial support that bat groups and ringers can offer (in the words of a certain supermarket ‘every little helps’) and we are also exploring other avenues to make-up any shortfall (including other funders and crowdsourcing for the guidelines).
If you or any members of your bat group have questions about this appeal or the project please do get in touch. I will be at the Conservation Technology and National Conferences in Nottingham this weekend so you are also most welcome to come and find me there.
To end I would just like to say a huge thank you to all of the support that this project has received so far, whether financial or with other offers of help and support. I am really excited that we are in a position to finally make this happen.
Kind regards, Lisa
Head of Conservation Services
Bat Conservation Trust, Quadrant House, 250 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5RD
Direct line: 020 7820 7176
====== Bats in Churches Project update =======
It’s the end of the summer season and we thought it was a great time to provide a bit of an update about the Bats in Churches project. Please forward this to the other members of group or others you feel would be interested in the project.
This summer the project has worked with 12 ecological consultants to conduct over 90 professional bat surveys at 31 churches. We’ve also been working with heritage consultants to help conserve historic monuments and artwork. The project team have already attended 74 engagement events, from church visits, to meetings with the Diocese, to events, talks and training workshops. Most recently I’ve particularly enjoyed meeting so many dedicated people at the National Bat Conference.
We’ve also had our first year of the Bats in Churches Study, which will give us up to date information on how many churches have bat roosts, and importantly, what the main factors are driving the likelihood of churches being used by bats. A huge thank you to those who have taken part, we’ve now had surveys at 49 churches in England! We hope that many more of you will be able to help over the coming three years to survey your local church. We’re just analysing the data from this summer, getting the DNA analysis results back and wading through sound files, and we’ll send out the results later in the year.
We’re very happy to say that we’ve received a lot of positivity around the project. You may have even seen the work from one of the pilot churches in the news. The mitigation works were carried out by Wild Wings Ecology, who can confirm that this year saw the highest-ever count of soprano pipistrelles in the emergence surveys (over 700). Obviously we’ll continue to monitor this roost in future years and provide updates on this church. Hopefully there will be plenty of similar good news stories for people and bats in coming years.
Already it’s clear that relationships cultivated between members of the local bat or wildlife groups, with church representatives, can go a long way to foster a more bat friendly culture in churches. Many people have spoken to us about wanting work closely with churches or survey them for NBMP – thank you! We know there are limitations on time and resources. As a project we’d like to build capacity for bat groups and we’d like your opinion. If you want to get involved with local churches, but feel there are barriers, you’d love to hear from you via this online survey.
Thanks again for your support and please do get in touch if you have any questions, want to get involved or you’re interested in a Bats in Churches talk. If you haven’t done so already, you can always sign up to the Bats in Churches e-newsletter on our website (www.batsandchurches.org.uk) to get regular updates.
Training and Survey Officer
Direct line: 020 7820 7173