The return of the bat walk – 26th Sept 21

In this message we have:

  • Reports from several bat walks that have been led by members this month.
  • An update on the Mendip bat swarming project.
  • Vincent Wildlife Trust are asking for bat group help at Shapwick Heath next week.
  • A request for help with the BCT Volunteer Bat Care Helpline.
  • The latest bat group bulletin, which includes news that Natural England will start charging for class licence renewals, if these are used for commercial use.

Bat Walks are back!

It has been a busy month for bat walks, with both Dave and Adel leading a few each.

Tues 24th Aug. Wells Moat – from Dave Cottle

“Fewer than fifteen people met outside the gatehouse of the Bishop’s Palace for a bat walk organised by the local SWT group. This was a vast difference to the crowd of approximately 100 who assembled there in 2019. However, it was much easier to engage with people and explain what was happening.

The walk began with the views of the Lesser Horseshoes leaving their roost above the portcullis slot in the gatehouse. We then walked around to the Recreation Ground where Common Pipistrelles were foraging in the canopy of the plane trees. A short distance away, near to the bandstand, we could hear and see up to three Serotines feeding in the open. Then it was back to the corner of the moat to hear the Daubenton’s bats. As they neared the dim streetlight we could just see them skimming the open areas, which were still free of blanket weed. Another Serotine was detected in the field with the Highland Cattle and a lone Noctule over Palace Fields. A surprising lack of Soprano Pipistrelles was noted.”

Sat 4 th Sept. Brent Knoll – from Dave Cottle

At the invitation of Ged Keele, I led a small group of villagers on a bat walk around the village. Once again I was helped by Tom Tookey, another member of the bat group. It began outside a house built in the 1970s, which had contained Serotines. However, when I looked down at the screen of my Echo Meter Touch it was recording Noctules. I then saw typical Serotine sonograms on the same section. The EMT does put down Noctules if you are talking as well as recording, but the sonograms are different if it’s a real call. When I checked later both bats appear to be using the same roost. This makes it the fourth known roost of them roosting together in the north of Somerset.

In the area between the Primary School and the parish church we detected Common and Soprano Pipistrelles, Serotines, Noctules and a Natterer’s bat. The latter recording was made near the church and, unlike some EMT recordings of myotis bats, could be correct. There were also Lesser Horseshoe droppings in the church porch.

A few days after the walk, Ged sent me a photo of a dead bat found in the church porch some time ago. He also made a heterodyne recording of what appears to be a Myotis bat flying in the porch. In 1998 Dr Gareth Jones did record a Bechstein’s bat in the same porch but the fringe of hairs on the tail membrane and the narrow ears point to the photograph being a Natterer’s bat .

Fri 17th Sept. Glastonbury Abbey Barn

Adel led a fully booked walk for Glastonbury Rural Life Museum. Common Pips were seen emerging from under the tiles of Abbey barn, and people enjoyed watching them circling inside the barn. Serotines were also seen in the orchard, and Sop.Pips were feeding around the gardens.

Sat. 18th Sept. Welshmill Park, Frome

Returning to Frome to lead a walk for the FROGs group, Adel was disappointed that the usual Serotines and Daubentons did not turn up at Welshmill Park. However lots of both Pips, and a highlight of one Sop.Pip. showing off and circling the streetlight under the railway bridge made peoples walk.

Dave and Adel have also been busy leading bat walks for several scout groups.


Mendip Bat swarming project

We had a brief update from Lewis on his swarming project:

“Last month I managed to get a load of audiomoths out, and looking at the data it seems like there’s lots of swarming activity going on. I also had the pleasure of doing a bit of bat photography at one of the G.B. Gruffy sites with Daniel Whitby, a well renowned bat ecologist and photographer.
I am planning on deploying the audiomoths again next saturday (25th September) starting at G.B Gruffy.”


VWT Shapwick Heath NNR Bat Reserve Practical Day

Laura Lawrance-Owen the Volunteering and Community Engagement Officer for Vincent Wildlife Trust sent the group the following:

“We have a volunteer activity at our bat reserve on the Shapwick Heath National Reserve next week and would like to invite volunteers from the local group to join us.

  • Volunteer role: Bat Reserve Ranger (click here for poster)
  • Task/Activity: clearing vegetation around the reserve and in preparation for contractors. All tools and PPE provided. Volunteers will work with VWT staff to make sure the site is ready for contractors to carry out essential repairs to maintain the building as a suitable roosting site for lesser and greater horseshoe bats.
  • When: Wednesday 29th September, timings to be confirmed. Volunteers are welcome to join for the day or part of the day.
  • Where: Canada Farm Bat Reserve, near Avalon Marshes Centre. Location on where to meet will be shared following sign up.

If you are interested in getting involved or have any questions about this role and opportunity please email Laura, Volunteering and Community Engagement Officer, lauralawrance-owen@vwt.org.uk or 07932 668838.”


Volunteer Bat Care Helpline needs your help!

The group received the following from Abby Packham, BCT Bat Groups Officer.

“Every year the National Bat Helpline takes thousands of calls from people who have found grounded and injured bats. We need your help to provide an excellent service that benefits bats. We are now recruiting volunteers to the Volunteer Bat Care Helpline (VBCH). Volunteers will answer the bat care calls we receive during office hours this winter.

Volunteers must attend one of two online training days on either Thursday 30th September, or Saturday 2nd October 2021.

About the role

As a volunteer on the VBCH, you will answer calls from members of the public who have found grounded, injured or lost bats. You will provide advice on a range of situations and put bat finders in touch with local bat care volunteers where possible.

All you need is:

  • A computer with internet access (or a tablet, although a computer is preferable)
  • A speaker/mic or headset to use with your computer, as phone calls will be received using an internet app on your machine
  • A phone with reliable reception for contacting support staff where needed

You do not need to have prior experience in conservation to volunteer, as full training and support is provided. Anyone who is interested in helping bats is welcome to apply! Volunteering for the Helpline is a great way to get involved in conservation from the comfort of your home, and we consistently receive feedback from volunteers that it is a very rewarding experience.

We are looking for volunteers who are:

  • Comfortable with using IT/the internet
  • Have good record-keeping skills
  • Are willing to speak to members of the public about bats and the work of BCT
  • Willing to spend additional time reading training materials, as there is a lot to learn!

As a volunteer, you will assist with 2-3 ‘bat watches’ per month between September – April. Each Bat Watch is 3.5 hours long (including a break). During each bat watch volunteers, can expect to help a number of callers rescue the bat(s) they have found.

To sign up, please follow the link: https://bit.ly/3ELKd0g

If you have any questions, please contact Marie on helplinevolunteers@bats.org.uk


Latest bat group bulletin

Click to view the latest bat group bulletin: 23rd September 2021 – #194.
This includes:

Changes to Class Survey Licences at NE

From 1st October Natural England will introduce new online forms and a charge for new registrations (£80 for bats). Re-registrations will remain free until 1st June 2022, when a charge of £35 will be introduced. However please note, this charge does not apply if the licence is only used for voluntary purposes or only for conservation science and research, e.g. VBRV CL15 and CL16.

New Webpage for Reporting a Ringed Bat.

BCT have added a new page to their website to make it simpler to report the finding of a ringed bat: https://www.bats.org.uk/advice/help-ive-found-a-bat/ive-found-a-bat-with-a-ring.

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