Author Archives: somersetbatgroup
Hi all Bat Group members,
Unfortunately I smacked a hole in my cars sump dumping oil everywhere. So while everyone else headed over to Ham Wall, I had to make do with waiting for a towtruck. Mixed morning!
Licenced bat workers carry out surveys of hibernation sites from December to March each year. More details about the hibernation survey on BCTs website
Keep an eye on our Facebook group, for more surveyors requesting help. The current requests for help are:
- Burrington Combe, three spaces on each, first come first served, contact Pete Banfield.
- 8th December 2019
- 5th January 2020
- 9th February 2020
- Taunton Police Station Tunnels in January and February 2020 (TBC) contact Cath Shellswell if interested. Priority given to VBRV trainees.
- Several visits to Keepers Cottage Bat house, Harridge Woods, contact Adel Avery for details.
Update from the BCT on 8th Nov
“Thank you for supporting our Environment Bill campaign. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to email their MP and forward their response to us. If you have received a reply and haven’t yet forwarded it, please do send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.The general election means that the Environment Bill will need to be reintroduced to our next Parliament. It is difficult at this stage to know when this might happen – we’ll let you know as soon as we have more information. In the meantime, we would really like to know if you were able to email your MP in the very short time available.The general election means we have to pause our campaign for a while, but you can continue to speak up for bats and other wildlife by contacting your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC) and asking them how they will protect bats in your local area if they become your MP. You can email your PPCs, attend a hustings or ask them a question directly if you’re canvassed by them or their representatives. However you get in touch, the run up to the election is a great opportunity to raise bat conservation issues in your local area with them. We’ll also send you some key questions you can ask them about the environmental commitments in their manifestos soon, so keep an eye on your emails.Bat Conservation Trust”
The following received from the BCT on 25th Oct 2019:
“PLEASE EMAIL YOUR MP TO HELP BAT CONSERVATION
We have recently found out that the Environment Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday 28th of October at 2.30pm.
We need your help to make sure that the Bill helps to protect bats and their habitats. Please email your MP urgently with the following text:
Feel free to adapt or personalise the message and don’t forget to add your MP’s name and your address details (highlighted in yellow).
You can find your MPs email address (and other contact details) here: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Please let us know if your MP replies and what they say by emailing email@example.com.
Thank you for your help.
Bat Conservation Trust”
Text of the suggested email below:
“Subject line: Please speak up for bats on Monday 28 October
I am writing to ask you to attend the second reading of the Environment Bill on Monday and speak in support of a strong and effective bill that will protect bats and other important wildlife as we leave the European Union.
Data collected by the Bat Conservation Trust shows that some of the UK’s bat species are showing signs of recovery after great historic declines. This suggests that our current legislation is having a positive impact. The government’s Environment Bill has the potential to undo all of our conservation efforts over the last 20 years if it does not maintain current standards.
The Bat Conservation Trust, which I am a supporter of, has identified three key areas where the Bill is currently not fit-for-purpose to adequately protect bats and other wildlife.
1. The Bill identifies Nature Recovery Strategies as a mechanism to tackle the decline in wildlife. This is an improvement on current approaches, and is crucial for bat conservation. However for this mechanism to be effective, these strategies must be deliverable and not just descriptive. They need to inform and be integrated into local authority strategic development plans in the same way housing and other developments are planned for.
2. Strong biodiversity duty that delivers for bat conservation
The inclusion of the improved section 40 NERC duty on biodiversity to public bodies in the Bill will greatly help to restore, maintain and conserve bat populations.
However the current proposals for environmental principles are weak and ineffective. The principles will only apply to Ministers of the Crown and they only have to have due regard for them in their policies. The core environmental principles that have formed the basis of EU policy need to be enshrined into our own legislation and they should guide all Government policy and behaviour, and apply to all public bodies. Leaving the EU will mean removing these current environmental principles from those bodies and it will therefrom be a retrograde step so it is vital that there is non-regression when UK leaves the EU.
3. If bats and other wildlife are to be properly protected for future generations, then an effective watchdog or regulator that is appropriately funded and staffed is essential. It is good to see that the Bill’s includes a proposal for an Office for Environmental Protection but it has concerning limitations.
It is good to read the proposals for the Office for Environmental Protection, but I have the following observations to make:
- There is no sense of urgency as to when the OEP will be in force.
- Ministers of the Crown appear to be exempt from co-operation with the OEP investigations – the OEP should be able to investigate the Crown where necessary.
- The Government response to reports from OEP on Environmental Improvement Plans (12 months) is too long and should be no longer than 4 months.
- Lastly, the definition of environmental law is narrow and excludes other areas especially land use planning that indirectly impacts on the environment.
I would be grateful if you could highlight these points in the debate on Monday, and support future amendments to the Environment Bill that will make it fit for purpose to protect bats and other wildlife in our local community for generations to come. I appreciate your taking the time to read this request and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Full address including postcode”
The group received a nice letter today from the CEO of the Bat Conservation Trust, to thank us for our donation to the project to create a national database of Bat ring numbers.
Hopefully this database will be a great help to us in the coming years.
A great start to the day at Great Breach Wood, with 14 natterers in one box, a noctule and two sop pips in a wooden Kent box, a large mating group of 10 soprano pips.
Unfortunately I smacked a hole in my cars sump dumping oil everywhere. So while everyone else headed over to Ham Wall, I had to make do with waiting for a towtruck. Mixed morning!
Later at Ham Wall, was this lovely group of Daubentons bats which I’m disappointed to have missed. Thanks to Josh Butterworth for the pic!
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
Hi bat group members,
Saturday 21st September 10am to around midday.
20 bat boxes were placed in Comeytrowe park and Longrun Meadow last year and we’re hoping that bat may have started using them. The box check will start at 10am at Comeytrowe Park before moving onto Longrun and finish around midday / early afternoon.
Booking essential – please contact Cath
Despite damp weather there was a huge turnout for Dave’s Walk at the Bishops Palace in Wells on Tuesday. The annual walk for the Somerset Wildlife Trust is always well attended but this year the estimates range from 80 to 100 adults, with at least half as many children again.
Fortunately, with both sets of the “northern” bat detectors, and Ed and Helen bringing their “southern” set, we had well over 30 Bat detectors out. A new record for us. The Bats put on a good show as always, with a highlight of a Pip and Serotine circling in the Rec. causing a cacophony of sound as all the detectors triggered in turn. It was loud, and raised “ohs” and “ahs” from the audience.
Dear bat group member,
Hope you’re having a batty summer! Latest info from the BCT is below.
1/ BCT Bat e-Bulletin – Issue 78 – August 2019 can be viewed on this link
2/ Bat Workers Forum 2019 – Bookings Now Open
The 2019 Bat Workers Forum will be taking place at 8pm on Friday 6th September at the University of Nottingham. Please see attached for the draft agenda for 2019. Further details about the Forum, including the minutes from 2018 and the terms of reference for the meeting are on the BCT website at: https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/conferences-symposia/national-bat-conference/annual-bat-workers-forum
If you would like to attend please let me know (either email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7820 7193). Advanced booking is preferred so that we can send out documentation in advance and to ensure we have enough teas and coffees for everyone.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is an issue, question or comment that you would like raised during the Forum or if you have any questions about the meeting (you do not have to be attending the conference to attend the Forum). The deadline to get items formally added to the agenda is 5.00pm on Monday 26th August.
3/ Pete Guest Award 2019 – Voting
Voting for the Pete Guest Award is still open so if you haven’t voted yet there’s still just enough time: https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/awards/pete-guest-award (voting closes at 5.30 on the 23rd August).
The winner will be announced at the Bat Worker Forum and the award presented at the National Bat Conference on Sunday 8th September.