As part of the Great Somerset Wildlife Count, the Bat Group is helping people to find and count the bats of their local area with our new community mapping project.
The aims of the Big Bat Count are to:
- Enthuse people about the fascinating bats in their local area,
- Demonstrate the power of citizen science, and in particular online community wildlife mapping.
- Discover how bats use Somerset towns, villages and rural areas. This is new science. The Bat group have done lots of work on designated areas: Mendips, Blackdowns and Brue Valley as well as the River Tone in Taunton, however, we know far less about bats use of other built-up and rural areas.
How will a Big Bat count work?
Teams of people cover different parts of a local area, with bat detectors that allow them to, listen to, and automatically identify the species of bat making their echolocation calls.
The teams record their bat observations on their phones using an online bat count map in the iNaturalist app. The count lasts for 90minutes after sunset.
When are the results available?
Immediately! The great thing about the online Big Bat Count map is everyone can see the results from all the other teams straight away. We will meet back at base at the end of the count, for a quick summary of the night’s findings from bat experts.
How do I get involved?
The bat group offer two types of Big Bat Counts:
Any group of adults can ask for a Big Bat Count of their area. So if you are a community group (wildlife, gardening, church …etc), or just a group of friends or neighbours, in Somerset who would like help to do a Big Bat Count on your patch then please do get in touch – email@example.com
A open event promoted in the press and social media, that local people can book onto. Our current plan is for public events in:
- A Somerset town (possibly Yeovil) on 6th May 2023
- Another Somerset town (possibly Frome) on International Bat Night – 26th August 2023. The results would be live-streamed as part of the BatFest Virtual Bat Walk.
Do Get in touch if you would like a public Big Bat Count event in your town!
What happens after the Big BAt Count night?
All the results on the night will be unverified “casual” flight recordings. Some of the species regarded as threatened in iNaturalist may have their locations and time of observation obscured, by moving them to a random point within 10km.
In the days after the count experts from the bat group will be able to review the recordings made on the devices, and for the key bat sightings, upload screenshots and sound files, to allow verification of the species from the recordings obtained by the teams.
These verified records will then be uploaded into iRecord, the dataset used by the Environmental Records Centres.
Want to know more about other wildlife counts?
Lots more details, including how to take part, are on their website: https://www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlife/great-somerset-wildlife-count
The Somerset Bat Group is grateful to the Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) for funding the new equipment used in the Big Bat Counts, and for help with mapping.