Our virtual AGM process, and BCT Covid-19 info – 31st March 2020

We live in difficult times.  In this newsletter we bring news of how we will hold a virtual Bat Group AGM, and the BCT advise that only bat surveys at your own home should be undertaken by volunteers.

Somerset Bat Group AGM

In light of the current restrictions we plan to hold a virtual AGM with a email process that concludes on the usual date of 25th April 2020.

The proposed process is:

  1. Members will be emailed and have the option to raise topics for the AGM or nominations.  Please email somersetbatgroup@gmail.com by 17th April:
    • If you would like to put yourself forward to stand on the SBG committee, or nominate someone else to stand.
    • If you have any information or questions that you would like to raise as “Any Other Business” (AOB) at the virtual AGM
  2. On Sat 18th April, all above will be collated with SBG committee reports and issued by email to members as a set of AGM meeting notes.
  3. Alongside the notes, at the same time members will be sent a link to a voting form to allow them to vote on all the AGM proposals, or make any comments, by 25th April.
  4. Shortly after 25th April  the results of all AGM votes and any discussion will be collated and issued as virtual AGM minutes.

Please email somersetbatgroup@gmail.com if you have any questions about the process.

March Bat Group Bulletin

The BCT sent us the latest set of news recently, with full information on Covid-19 affects and responses.

BCT National Bat Monitoring Programme Update

All Bat monitoring activities away from your house are suspended until further notice.

In the current challenging situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we hope that everyone is coping and keeping well. In these difficult times the health and well-being of our volunteers is our priority. It is vital that we follow the latest government instructions to remain at home, protect the NHS and save lives. These essential restrictions will limit our ability to go out and experience wildlife, and this will include participation in NBMP surveys. However, why not use the time hone your skills with the online bat survey training on the NBMP website, or if you have a garden, use the time to more closely appreciate the wildlife there?

Our current position is as follows:

  • Do not leave your home to undertake any NBMP survey activities (this includes pre-survey activities such as visiting sites to do daytime recces or meet with land or property owners).
  • Some NBMP surveys can be conducted from within your home, for example some roost counts and sunset/sunrise surveys conducted from your garden. It is currently ok to continue with these so long as you always obey the latest government instructions.
  • Please be reassured that the NBMP is a long-term monitoring scheme; reduced survey coverage in any one year is not detrimental to the long-term value of your surveys. Thank you for your continued commitment to the NBMP.
  • Below we outline our current guidance for taking part in specific NBMP surveys and training this year. We will keep the situation under review and will release updated guidance in accordance with government instructions as the situation evolves. If you have any questions please contact us at nbmp@bats.org.uk

Sunset/Sunrise Survey (starts April)

  • This survey must only be carried out at home, looking out for bats and other nocturnal wildlife in your own garden, and only with members of your own household – do not invite other people to participate.
  • Please do not leave your own property to undertake this survey.

National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project (starts May)

  • Under current restrictions this survey would not be able to go ahead.
  • Participating bat groups should await further advice from us before planning any survey activities that involve travel away from the home.

Roost Count (June – for most species)

  • If you count a bat roost at your own house then it is currently expected that you will be able to carry out your counts as usual, though you should not invite anyone from outside your own household to assist.
  • If you count a bat roost away from your own home, please await further guidance from us before planning survey activities, and do not carry out the survey until further notice. You may wish to touch base with the roost owner (via phone or email) about the current restrictions.

Field Survey (July) / Waterway survey (August) / Woodland Survey (July to September)

  • Please await further guidance from us before planning survey activities, and do not carry out the survey until further notice.
  • Our current position is not to travel from home to undertake any survey activities, including preliminary site visits, e.g. to carry out your daytime recce or meet up with the landowner.
  • We will keep this under review and update you if government instructions change.

NBMP bat detector workshops

  • All bat detector training workshops have been postponed.
  • We are exploring running some online training sessions in May/June. We will share details of these once they are finalised.

Thank you for your continued support for the NBMP. The team at BCT are currently working from home and therefore we are still available to contact by phone and email should you have any questions or concerns. We will keep you updated should the government guidance change.

Please stay safe.

NBMP Team, Bat Conservation Trust, Email: nbmp@bats.org.uk

BCT Bats in Churches Study Update

While you are still able to select churches to survey, we ask that you do not contact churches about the study at the moment. You may have already heard that places of worship have closed their doors for the time being, as part of the measures needed to slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19.

In this period of uncertainty we do not know what the government guidance may bring in the coming months and these surveys are not essential to carry out. We’ll try and keep you informed as much as possible. When we make decisions about the 2020 season, or potential alterations to the survey period, we’ll try and do so with as much advance notice as possible.

Claire Boothby

Training and Survey Officer,  Bats in Churches Project, Bat Conservation Trust