Part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Great Somerset Wildlife Count the Big Bat Count Taunton is all about inviting people to enter the fascinating world of bats.
It’s your chance to get involved in real-time, night-time monitoring of a variety of bat species across Taunton in this very special pilot event which employs the very latest, cutting-edge bat detecting technology to collect data about what bats we have in one of the county’s biggest urban environments.
- More details and how to book: https://www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlife/great-somerset-wildlife-count/big-bat-count-taunton
On the night everyone booked should meet soon after 7PM at the car park at SWT HQ:
- Somerset Wildlife Trust, 34 Wellington Road Taunton, TA1 5AW View map
taking part in the guided bat survey walk?
The walk leader will start with a talk about bats at 7:30PM, before leading the group out to start the guided survey walk at 8:15PM.
Taking Part in a Group?
Before the Big bat count night
Once booked onto a big bat count as a group we ask:
- At least one adult (hopefully more) from each group should install the iNaturalist app on their mobile internet-enabled phone, and create an iNaturalist account.
- Search for the “Big Bat Count Taunton 2022” project in iNaturalist, and join that project, ensure you trust the project with exact locations.
- Read the safety briefing
On the night preparation
On the night of the count, the teams of people should meet soon after 7PM at SWT HQ to collect two bat detectors per team:
- The first detector is an ultrasonic microphone (Echo Meter Touch2 – EMT) attached to a tablet that can record and most importantly automatically identify the bat species it hears.
- The second detector (Magenta) is not essential and is a “nice to have”. It can be set to the frequency shown on the tablet and allows participants to listen to the echolocation calls the bat is making in real-time
Each team is then given a safety briefing and a map showing an area that they requested when booking.
During the preparation, the count leader will make sure that all teams:
- Are aware of their survey area, and the process to follow
- Have the required kit and know how to use it
- Have received the safety briefing, and have at least one hi-vis “BAT survey” vest per team
- Are aware all sounds will be recorded, and to avoid creating ultrasound themselves as much as possible. Keys rattling, small change, rustling cagoules, zips .. etc are all common ultrasound sources
taking part in the Big Bat Count
The aim is for each team to start the Big Bat Count of their area near Sunset, and carry on for the next 90 minutes.
Sunset is at 8:11 PM, so counts should start at 8:15 and finish at 9:45PM.
The process each team should follow is:
- Switch on the tablet by holding the power button for 5 secs. Swipe up, to dismiss the opening screen:
- Plug in the EMT microphone, this is directional so ensure it is always pointing upwards.
- Start the Echo Meter app on the tablet.
- Dismiss the location warning.
- Press the round green round Start button.
- Start recording using the round button with a red square (auto bat ID only works when recording).
- Switch on the Magenta detector and set it initially to 45kHz
- Log into iNaturalist on the internet-enabled phone and load the “Big Bat Count Taunton 2022” project.
- Aim to cover as much of the area as you can in the next 90minutes.
- Always stay in public places, footpaths, parks etc. Never enter private land, even to follow a bat.
- Ultrasound (sounds beyond our hearing) is very common. From cars, to birds and crickets, ultrasound is everywhere. Hence the EMT device will be recording most of the time, and will often come up with no bat detected, or “No ID”.
- Keep moving around your area until a bat is seen or heard, in real life, or via the detectors. This will usually be rhythmic patterns of sound.
- Once a bat is seen or heard, stop for a minute to:
- Watch and enjoy it!
- Watch for the AutoID species suggestion from the Echo Meter app. Always try to click the top suggested species.
- Look up the bat species and record it, and the exact location, in the iNaturalist app using the “Big Bat Count Taunton 2022” project.
- If the phone does not have an internet connection, the species lookup in iNaturalist will not work, hence type the bat species in manually.
- Tune the Magenta detector to the peak frequency shown on the EMT so you can also listen to the bats echolocation calls.
- After the minute is up, move on again.
- When a bat is next seen or heard, stop again and record it for a minute. It may be a new bat, or you may suspect it is the same bat doing big circles. Either way, it doesn’t matter, just add a new record in the iNaturalist app, then move on again once the minute is up.
- Within your area, feel free to follow the direction a bat went in, but try not to go over the same ground too much.
- At 9:45PM, after the 90 minutes are up, return to the central base. Return all the kit to the count leader, and report if any problems occurred.
The close of the count night
All the groups, and the guided walks, results are available instantly on the iNaturalist app. Hence the count leader will be able to review and give a debrief talk to include the initial results.
After the count
All the results on the night will be unverified flight recordings.
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, to verify the species from the recordings obtained by the teams.