Questions for Prospective Parliamentary Candidates from BCT

Today the BCT sent us some questions that we might like to consider asking our potential MP’s as below:

“We wanted to provide some questions that you might want to consider asking your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC). As we enter the last two weeks of the campaign, this is a real opportunity to press the candidates on what their plans are for protecting bats and other wildlife. You can email your PPCs, attend a hustings or ask them a question directly if you’re canvassed by them or their representatives. You will probably already have your own ideas about what you would like to ask, but below are some key questions that you could consider using:

  1. In 2018, the Red Tape Initiative concluded that the government should “maintain and enforce” the laws aimed at protecting wildlife such as bats. How can the parties ensure that our current high environmental standards are maintained and even enhanced in the future?
  2. Some of our bat species are finally starting to show signs of recovery after huge historical declines, and this is in part thanks to the legislation that protects them. In a new Environment Act will you commit to legally binding targets to reverse nature’s decline by 2030? Will you commit to a fully independent and properly-resourced watchdog with legal bite, to ensure that these targets are met?
  3. Many of the parties are committing to tree planting as part of the fight against climate change. How would you ensure that tree planting is done strategically? i.e. that the planting takes place in the right places, and secondly that it is linked to the proposed Nature Recovery Plans, to ensure that they are providing connectivity between our green spaces for species such as bats?
  4. Is your party committing to a new environmental land management system that rewards farmers receiving public payments for public goods, that benefit wildlife reliant on the agricultural landscape, for example, bats? How much funding are you committing to support such a scheme?

We hope you get a chance to raise these important issues with your PCC. We would be interested to hear of any responses you receive, please do send it to

Many thanks.

Bat Conservation Trust”



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
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:


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:

Please let us know if your MP replies and what they say by emailing

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

Dear MP

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.

Yours sincerely


Full address including postcode”


BCT Info – Bat Workers Forum19 & e-Bulletin – August 2019

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:

If you would like to attend please let me know (either email: 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: (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.


NBMP Intro Bat Detector Workshop, Weymouth, Dorset – 12July19

We received the following invitation from the BCT today:

Dear NBMP volunteer,

We are running an introductory bat detector workshop in Weymouth, Dorset on Friday July 12th. The workshop is suitable for beginners and also those with some experience who would like a refresher.

Depending on your location, this workshop may be too far to travel for you. Please keep checking our website ( as new workshops are added on a regular basis.

For full details and a booking form please go to:

NBMP volunteers will receive a £10 discount using code ‘NBMP’ when ordering a ticket. Paid up SBG members will receive a £5 discount using code ‘Concession ’

Thank you for all your hard work as a NBMP volunteer.

Kind regards,

Victoria Mercier
NBMP Survey Assistant

Alcathoe bat found in Cave near Bradford on Avon

Alcathoe in Cave near Bradford on Avon

Well done to Wilts Bat group, a great record!  Nice write up in in the Wilts Times here:

Alcathoe bat found in Cave near Bradford on Avon
Alcathoe bat found in Cave near Bradford on Avon

ONE of the rarest mammals in Britain has been found in Bradford on Avon.

Previously, the Alcathoe bat has only been sighted in North Yorkshire and a small area of Sussex and Surrey despite being first found in Britain in 2010.

The discovery, made outside a cave near Bradford-on-Avon, has excited local bat lovers and scientists.

Professor Fiona Mathews, Professor of Environmental Biology at the University of Sussex, said: “It’s incredibly exciting for the Alcathoe bat to have been found at this site.

“It is one of the species in most urgent need of research. We quite literally know almost nothing about it.”

Keith Cohen and Danielle Linton, of Wiltshire Bat Group, said: “This bat looked distinctly different from those we usually catch, so it was very exciting in case it could be an Alcathoe bat.

“Luckily, we also caught a Whiskered bat, which is the species it looks most like, and could compare them side by side.”

The female bat had just finished breeding and was found at a swarming site in early autumn last year by workers who thought it looked unusual and sent dropping samples to Professor Mathews to test.

She explained: “Some types of bats go to swarming sites late at night after feeding. They’re almost like nightclubs for bats.

“Tens or even hundreds of bats can turn up but behaviour is very sporadic, so any given site could have hundreds of bats one night and absolutely none the next.

“We monitor these sites carefully and catch bats using mist nets, which are like large fishing nets. The bats are then removed by specially-licensed bat workers, checked and released unharmed.

“In this instance, workers thought the bat looked a bit unusual and sent dropping samples to me at Sussex where my company, Ecotype Genetics, confirmed the identity of the species using DNA analysis.”

There are 18 species of bats in the UK, of which 17 are known to breed here.

The population size of the common pipistrelle, which is found throughout the UK, is thought to be close to two million.

But the population of Alcathoe bats is likely to be just a few thousand individuals and breeding has been confirmed in only one small area in the south-east of England.

Professor Mathews said: “The Alcathoe bat looks very similar to two other related species, the whiskered and Brandt’s bat species, so it is possible that people misidentify it. Indeed it was only separated as a distinct species in Europe in 2001.

“The areas where it has been caught so far usually have old oak woodlands nearby, which is not the case with the bat we’ve just found.

“This only serves to illustrate exactly why we need to do more research about the species to understand its needs and how we can protect it.”

Alcathoe and whiskered bats found in Cave near Bradford on Avon
Alcathoe and whiskered bats found in Cave near Bradford on Avon

Noctule bats reveal mothers guide juveniles to roosts but not food

New German research published this week in Biology Letters, using Proximity sensors on common Noctule bats has show evidence that Nocule mothers guide juvenile bats use to suitable roosts, but not food patches:

Abstract copied below:

Female bats of temperate zones often communally rear their young, which creates ideal conditions for naive juveniles to find or learn about resources via informed adults. However, studying social information transfer in elusive and small-bodied animals in the wild is difficult with traditional tracking techniques. We used a novel ‘next-generation’ proximity sensor system (BATS) to investigate if and how juvenile bats use social information in acquiring access to two crucial resources: suitable roosts and food patches. By tracking juvenile–adult associations during roost switching and foraging, we found evidence for mother-to-offspring information transfer while switching roosts but not during foraging. Spatial and temporal patterns of encounters suggested that mothers guided juveniles between the juvenile and the target roost. This roost-switching behaviour provides evidence for maternal guidance in bats, a form of maternal care that has long been assumed, but never documented. We did not find evidence that mothers guide the offspring to foraging sites. Foraging bats reported brief infrequent meetings with other tagged bats that were best explained by local enhancement. Our study illustrates how this recent advance in automated biologging provides researchers with new insights into longstanding questions in behavioural biology.

A ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella). The arrows indicate the tymbals. Image Credit: David Agassiz, Natural History Museum

Deaf moth evolves to outwit Bats

Interesting new paper published by University of Bristol today:

A genus of deaf moth has evolved to develop an extraordinary sound-producing structure in its wings to evade its primary predator the bat. The finding, made by researchers from the University of Bristol and Natural History Museum, is described in Scientific Reports today.

More info:

A ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella). The arrows indicate the tymbals. Image Credit: David Agassiz, Natural History Museum
A ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella). The arrows indicate the tymbals. Image Credit: David Agassiz, Natural History Museum
India - a bat carer and wildlife assistant at West Hatch - has been caring for "Merri" around the clock

Rare Grey long-eared bat in the news

Super write up about group member and RSPCA worker India Long, and her care for probable grey long-eared bat.

Rare ping pong ball sized bat was close to death before rescue

“Merri” is believed to be a grey long-eared bat, a species among the rarest mammals in England

A dedicated RSPCA worker is providing round-the-clock care to a bat thought to be one of the rarest mammals in England.

Merri, believed to be a grey long-eared bat, was rescued by the RSPCA on Monday (14 August) after being found grounded in Merriott, Somerset.

She was taken in by the charity’s West Hatch Wildlife Centre, in nearby Taunton, where staff member and bat expert India Long has taken the tiny 5g mammal under her wing.

India - a bat carer and wildlife assistant at West Hatch - has been caring for "Merri" around the clock
India – a bat carer and wildlife assistant at West Hatch – has been caring for “Merri” around the clock