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?
People cover their local area, with bat detectors that allow them to, listen to, and automatically identify the species of bat making their echolocation calls.
The bat observations are recorded on their phones using an online bat count map in the iNaturalist app. The group counts usually last for an hour after sunset.
When are the results available?
Immediately! The great thing about the online Big Bat Count map is everyone taking part can see all the records straight away.
How do I get involved?
The bat group offer several ways to get involved in Big Bat Counts:
Community Group Big bat count
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking part in the Big Bat Count as an individual
The bat group would like to encourage as many people as possible to upload verifiable flight records of bats to the iNaturalist database. Once verified, these will then be added automatically to the database of the Somerset Environmental Records Centre. Full details on the links below.
- How to take part as an individual in the Big Bat Count
Anyone who has recordings of bats echolocation in Somerset can take part, and even if you don’t have your own recordings you can still help the Somerset Big Bat Count by validating the records posted by others.
Public group big Bat Counts
An open event promoted in the press and social media, that teams of local people can book onto. Our current plan is for public events in:
- Yeovil – on 22nd April 2023 for Earth Day
- Bridgwater – on International Bat Night – 26th August 2023. We hope this event will 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 area!
What happens after a group 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?
The Great Somerset Wildlife Count is Somerset Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) new community science initiative delivered in partnership with Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC).
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:
- Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) for funding the ultrasonic microphones and safety equipment used in the Big Bat Counts, and for help with mapping.
- Hinkley Point C Community Fund for a grant awarded via the Somerset Community Foundation, to fund the tablets and bat call analysis software used in the Big Bat Count.