Category Archives: SBG News

It’s survey time! Bat Group Newsletter Mid May 2019

Hi bat group members,

The busy time of year is coming up, and in this newsletter, we have lots of opportunities to get involved in surveys, an exciting request for help from the National Trust in Exmoor, and the latest edition of the Bat Monitoring Post from the BCT (copied below)


1. Sunrise Sunset Surveys

Anyone can take part in these, and everyone is encouraged to!  Taking part in the Sunset-Sunrise Survey couldn’t be simpler, you don’t need any equipment or experience and you may not even need to leave your back garden!

More info:

2. Roost emergence counts

Many bat group members will be out during June to count the numbers of bats emerging from known roosts for the National Bat Monitoring Program (NBMP).There are lots of opportunities to get involved during June

If you have any questions then please contact Pete Gulliver our NBMP Champion.

3. Bat Survey – Holnicote, Exmoor

Basil Stow the National Trust Area Ranger for the Holnicote estate on Exmoor, has been in touch to ask for bat group members help with an exciting bat survey between June and September.  Full details of how to get involved are here.

June is THE month for emergence counts, and we’ll be back in touch about the Field Surveys during July shortly.

Kind regards,

Pete Gulliver

NBMP Champion, Somerset Bat Group  



Welcome to the April edition of the Bat Monitoring Post!

Spring is well and truly underway and the NBMP Summer Surveys are just around the corner. The Sunset/Sunrise Survey has already begun and will run throughout the summer, while the core surveys kick off with the Roost Count in June. This bulletin is crammed with information on how you can take part, with a couple of extra surprises thrown in. It has also been great to see so much Hibernation Survey data coming in over the last couple of months. If you have any more results to submit, or would like to add new sites to the programme please do let us know!


  • Sunset/Sunrise Survey
  • Preparing for the Roost Count
  • Bat Roost Webcam – Essex Wildlife Trust
  • Available Field Survey and Waterway Survey Sites
  • Bat Detector Workshops
  • Eavesdropping behaviour of bats
  • More dates for your diary

Sunset/Sunrise Survey

The 2019 Sunset/Sunrise Survey is now up and running. This is a great opportunity to get involved with bat surveying and discover wildlife in your local area. You don’t need any previous experience or special skills to take part, just a healthy dose of enthusiasm! Invite your friends or family and spend an hour looking out for bats in your chosen location, whether it be your garden or a local green space.
If you’re interested, download the Sunset/Sunrise Survey form and instructions from our website and send us your results when you’re done. If you’re lucky enough to find a bat roost, you could then go a step further by taking part in the Roost Count in June, helping us learn even more about bats!

Preparing for the Roost Count

Bats will be returning to their maternity roosts soon, which means it’s time to start getting ready for the Roost Count!
As ever the main survey period will be in June (though timings vary slightly for the horseshoe bats) and we will be sending out updated survey packs for this year soon. If you find a new roost, or are aware of a roost which is not currently monitored as part of the NBMP, it would be great to add these to the scheme. This can either be done by pressing the ‘add new roost’ button on your online recording account, or by filling out a blank survey form and sending it to us.
Remember to send in your results online or via post after completing your surveys!

Bat Roost Webcam – Essex Wildlife Trust

Ever wondered what bats get up to inside their roost? Essex Wildlife Trust have recently set up a camera inside a bat box in the roof of the Hanningfield Reservoir visitor centre, which is home to a soprano pipistrelle roost. Last year, 1773 bats were recorded at the site, the largest number of soprano pipistrelles ever recorded as part of the NBMP! If you want to get an insight into the bats’ behaviour and see how they are doing, take a look at the Bat Webcam.

Available Field Survey and Waterway Survey Sites

We have several sites that need repeat visits which are listed here for the Field Survey and here for the Waterway Survey (lists can be found at the bottom of the page). Please contact us at if you would like to survey any of these sites and we can sign you up. You can download the survey materials from your online account or, if you prefer, we can send you a survey pack in the post closer to the survey period.
The Field Survey and Waterway Survey are supported by the generous sponsorship of Wildlife Acoustics.

Bat Detector Workshops

Each year we organise a programme of NBMP introductory bat detector workshops in order to train new volunteers and refresh the skills of existing volunteers. These workshops begin with a classroom session which focuses on identifying bats by their echolocation calls, followed by an evening practical session in the field.
So far nine workshops have been confirmed and details of more dates and venues across the UK will be finalised and made available over the next few weeks. For more information or to book a place click here.

Eavesdropping behaviour of bats

The results from a large-scale field experiment investigating eavesdropping in bats that took place across 12 lakes in Europe in 2016 have recently been published.
Bats are thought to eavesdrop on the echolocation calls (including ‘feeding buzzes’) of other individuals to locate other bats and also to find prey. The researchers wanted to know how bat behaviour changed when eavesdropping and the results showed that while the calls of other bats does affect their behaviour, their response depends on a number of factors such as the species, diet and the number of individuals involved. The study provides new insights into how bats use social information about the species present, prey abundance and potential competition, and has implications for understanding species interactions and distributions.
The study included five species also found in the UK: Daubenton’s bat, Natterer’s bat, Leisler’s bat, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle. You can access the full paper here.

More dates for your diary


  • 11-12 May 2019 – Wales Bat Worker’s Weekend. Venue – Glyndwr University, Wrexham. For more details or to book your place click here or email
  • 21 May 2019 – Lighting Symposium. Venue – Arup’s offices, London. For more details or to click here.
  • 6 September 2019 – Conservation and Technology Conference. Venue – University of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. For more details or to book your place click here.
  • 6-8 September 2019 – National Bat Conference. Venue – University of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. For more details or to book your place click here.
  • 9 November 2019 – *SAVE THE DATE* Scottish Bat Worker’s Conference. For more information click here or email

Click here for more event details

Training Courses:

  • Multiple dates – NBMP bat detector workshops. Nationwide. These are designed to train new or inexperienced volunteers to use bat detectors and complete NBMP surveys. Click here for more info.
  • 16 & 17 May 2019 – Surveying for bats – Nettlecombe Court, Somerset. This course will give you the knowledge and skills to plan professional bat surveys, as well as developing practical survey skills and field sign identification. Click here for more info.
  • 21-23 August 2019 – Advanced Bat Survey Techniques. Over three days and two nights, attendees will be given theoretical and practical experiences of acoustic lures, harp traps, mist nets and radio tracking. Click here for more info.

The Bat Monitoring Post Archive

Click here to access past issues of the Bat Monitoring Post and to look at reviews of Bat Detectors from previous editions.


SBG Newsletter – early May 2019

Dear Bat Group Members,

Hope everyone’s enjoying the warmer nights and longer evenings, our local bats certainly seem to be doing so!  Lots to cover in the newsletter, so getting straight to the point:

1/ Bat Group Events

Our first events of the year are coming up, would be great to see lots of group members there:

  • Bat Box checks in Taunton  – Sat 18th May 2019
  • Avalon Marshes Bat Box checks – Sat 25th May 2019
  • Shepton Mallet Bat walk – Fri 31st May 2019

Details of how to get involved on our website: 

2/ Somerset Bat Group Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Many thanks to all those that attended and contributed!  We covered the usual AGM business of accounts, reports, electing Committee for 2019 and revising our constitution.  But we also  discussed potential plans for 2019 with potential surveys for the National Trust on Exmoor, and the Woodland Trust, perhaps on Blackdowns.

The AGM minutes can be found here:

3/ Membership

If you last paid your SBG subs in 2018, now the AGM has gone, it is time to renew your membership.   You can now do this easily online:
As Cath said recently on Facebook “it’s now so much easier to join Somerset Bat group using the online form”.

4/ Website

The eagle eyed may have noticed we have a new shorter address for the website (the old addresses still work), and as we have upgraded, it no longer has those annoying adverts!

5/ BCT Update

The BCT new Bat Groups Officer, Colin Morris’s first BCT update can be read by clicking here.  The full archive of BCT updates is here:  htps://

There is lots happening at the moment, so we’ll shortly be in touch again with details of the upcoming National Bat Monitoring Programs.

Batty regards,


Membership Secretary for Somerset Bat Group

New set of Bat Detectors for the group

The groups new set of Bat Detectors arrived today.  Thanks to Adel who got the group a good discount at the Bat conference this weekend!

The group now has three sets of Detectors that we can use for public bat walks, and other group uses.  One set is with Adel in the north of the county, with the other set with Ed at the bottom.  So this set will probably be kept in the middle, but location yet to be agreed.

The detectors are for the groups use, hence if any members would like to use them for activities then please get in touch.

For info. the group also has a Anabat and a Petterson Detector that can be used for survey work.

New set of bat detectors for SBG

New set of bat detectors for SBG


Brue Valley 2017 Big Bat Survey Report

Results of the last Brue Valley Survey are in.  The culmination of “our 5 year mission”.

What bats did we hear, and where were they? Have a read of the report to find out.

With many thanks to:

  • all the volunteers that took part,
  • the landowners that allowed the survey to take place,
  • Paula Hewitson at SERC for coordinating the volunteer effort,
  • Edward Wells for the sound analysis and writing the text
  • Claire Smith for pulling all of this together into a report

(hopefully I haven’t missed anyone out, but if I have I’d like to say a very big thank you!)

In Memory of Lou Pickersgill

1st July 2013LouP

Lou Pickersgill died in June 2013 at the age of 64. Until her final illness Lou was Secretary of the Somerset Bat Group, a member of Dorset Bat Group and Avon Bat Group, Treasurer of the Somerset Mammal Group, Chairman of the Yeovil Area Group of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, a Voluntary Bat Warden and a dedicated surveyor for the NBMP and for the surveys of the various groups to which she belonged.

Lou had the unusual virtue of being both a superb organiser and motivator and an excellent field naturalist. She was the most dynamic secretary the Somerset Bat Group has ever had and everyone came to rely on her untiring efforts. It is not always easy to keep all the group up to scratch but Lou made sure that people turned out for every meeting. She was an essential part of the team for the Bechsteins Survey and the leader of the Barbastelle Survey on the Quantocks. Lou was the driving force behind many bat box schemes and a part of the group monitoring the hibernation sites in the Mendip cave. It was typical of Lou that only a few months before her untimely death, as she awaited chemotherapy, she was walking and mapping out transects for the new Brue Valley Big Bat Survey.

Our thoughts are with her partner, Nigel, and her sisters and brother. Lou faced her illness with characteristic practicality and pragmatism. She enjoyed her life and whilst frustrated at not being able to do more she saw much to celebrate in what she had seen and inspired others to enjoy. She will be remembered and greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

Aerial acrobats – Somerset Life article

We’re famous! (almost).   This article on your Bechsteins work was published 28th Feb 2013 in Somerset Life magazine.

Excerpt below:

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. No, not teddy bears, but the rare Bechstein’s bat species. The Somerset Bat Group elaborates

On a muggy, starless night, in the midst of the ancient wood a trap has been set. Looking for all the world like a giant, squareshaped harp on legs, the trap, constructed from strong steel and light aluminium, employs a mesh made from fine fishing line. Its intended catch is lured using sounds pitched above the level of normal human hearing. What is the purpose of such an elaborate device? Somerset Life goes down to the woods to investigate

The harp trap is a good way to catch a variety of woodland bats with the minimum risk of harming them, explains Paul Kennedy, a licensed bat worker who is supervising tonights catch. Bats fly into the strings of the harp and are directed downwards into a large canvas pouch with pockets into which they can crawl and from which they can be extracted.

Paul and fellow volunteers from the Somerset Bat Group are using harp traps to survey over fifty woods in the county for bats. The project is being coordinated across the southern counties of England by the Bat Conservation Trust, the national charity devoted to the conservation of bats.

The projects focus is a particularly elusive species Bechsteins bat thought to be among the rarest of all 17 bat species resident in the UK. They live only in ancient woods, and not in every wood by any means, Paul Kennedy continues.