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Sunday, 18 December 2011

The First Hibernation Survey


Last weekend members of the group headed out to the hibernation sites across the county. There was doubt that numbers would be very good, due to the fairly good weather that we have had so far this winter.

But over the weekend numbers were up on last year and in the largest site that is monitored, a new recod number of bats were found, 101 in total. Of these Barbastelle Barbastellus barbastellus numbers were still good, with six found in total. Not quite the 25 found last year, however still good for the weather that has been good so far.

The species found most was natterers Myotis nattereri with a daubentons a close second M. daubentonii, a smaller number of brown long eared  Plecotus Auritus were also found.

The next surveys are taking place in Jan, I am leading the Sunday checks and will bring the results shortly after.


Friday, 25 November 2011

That's a rap

The bat season is just about finished for the year. Three hibernation surveys are due to take place in December, Jan and Feb, I'll bring the results as and when they have taken place.
There will also be a final box check in the Luton area. If these have been damaged we will probably take them down.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Kings Wood Bat Box Project


A little update on the box project.

A check was made last Sunday and 9 pipistrelles were found in one box and brown long eared in another.

There will also be a check of teh Luton boxes this month and I will bring an update when these are complete.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Isn't it about time Bat Surveys were given a break

Are Bat Surveys getting a bad deal??

You’ve only got to Google bat surveys to find a whole host of
articles and blog posts about the costs and delays associated with bat surveys
in the context of planning and development. This is something I come across
everyday in my working life and the bat group are getting increasing queries regarding

this article for example.

this one.

The latter ‘journalist’ describes bat surveys as a fleece
and questions the integrity of the bat surveyors, suggesting that they are
planting evidence to secure more work.

Why do people get asked for bat surveys?

People often feel very aggrieved about the need for a bat
survey in the first place. Oftentimes, it comes out of the blue. The local
planning authority will frequently come to you at the eleventh hour of your
planning application’s determination period, only to say they have insufficient
information and need a bat survey.

What does this request for a bat survey mean to you?

If you’re like most people: frustration, disappointment and
resentment. You lose faith in the efficiency and the fairness of planning

It’s the same feeling I get when I take may car to the
garage for an MOT, to be told by the mechanic I need new brakes, a new clutch,
new tyres, and the list goes on to about a gazillion parts which almost never
seem to total less than £500 (excluding labour and VAT of course.)

Give the bats and the surveyors a break!

In a bad week, I can have the same conversation with tens of
people. I try to explain: that the surveyors perform surveys, that they don’t
make the law, nor planning policies, and that persuading us you don’t need bat
surveys—or trying to—is not helping advance your planning application.

I go (what feels like) around in circles, explaining that:

“I can’t write a letter to the planners for you saying you
don’t have bats.

“There is not a ‘lesser’ type of survey that is applicable
to your small house extension.

“It’s your choice to get a bat survey done or not, no one is
forcing you to do anything.”

Sometimes it only takes a minute, other times this can go on
for weeks, but eventually the penny drops, and we start to discuss what can be
done to get the project moving forward again as well as protecting the bats.

So what can be done about bat surveys?

The first step to progressing a planning application where
bat survey reports are required, is to accept that this national planning
policy exists to satisfy your local authority that legally protected species are
not at risk—either directly, in consequence of your development, or through
habitat being permanently lost to development. Further, that the onus of proof rests
upon you, the applicant.

The next step is to engage a reputable bat surveyor. This
must be someone who is trained, educated and licensed. If you instruct someone
without such authority, you risk his or her inexperience being questioned by
the local planning authority.

What does a bat survey typically cost?

That depends on what
is found, however you can a find a list of suitably qualified people
through the Institute of Ecology and
Environmental Management
Web site.

With a bit of luck, you’ll get change from £400. In the rare
instance that bats, evidence, or features with habitat value are found, expect to pay
more than this for a second stage of survey.

So I have paid for a bat survey, what now?

The purpose of the survey is to inform the design of
mitigation and license requirements, or exclude them altogether.

Nothing beats reading it for yourself

You can find out more about bat surveys by visiting the Bat
Conservation Trust Web site and reading their best practice guidance for bat

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bat Box update

A while back I had posted that Danny had found a bat in one of my designs of bat box, on Monday at the committee meeting Danny told me that another one of the boxes was occupied by three common pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus bats.
Not only that but the box had two other designs on the same tree and these were unoccupied.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Luton Hoo Swarming Survey

Another disappointing night at the large estate, no bats caught in either a triple high mist net or two harp traps.
Several myotis bats heard and the odd pipistrelle Pipistrellus spp. but other than that not alot happening.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

End of the Season


It is getting to the point were the bat season is finishing up, I have arranged a final survey of Luton Hoo, in October, and there are a couplle of other sites being looked at over the next couple of weeks.

I'll bring updates as and when these have occurred.

I also had an e-mail from the chairman of the Somerset bat group yesterday boosting that he had found a male Bechsteins bat Myotis bechsteinii in woodland not prevouisly known for this species, typical Somerset boosting followed, never-mind us lot in Bedfrodshire can only keep looking!!


Monday, 19 September 2011

National Bat Conference

The weekend saw several of the BBG go to the natioanl conference.

It was my first time going and really enjoyed the experience, there was a hell of a lot to take in, with several talks about habitat modelling, detectors and generally what BCT had been up to.

Much merryment was had in the evenings, with certain people getting very little sleep.

Over all a good weekend and I will be going again.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

First Box Check at Kings Wood

Bob, Aidan, Jonathan, Simon, Jake and I did the first bat box check yesterday.

We thought that it would take about 6hrs (with Bob expecting to not find bats) the rest of us were not so sure.

The first box checked a single common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) was found. By the time we had checked 9 boxes three species, including brown long eared bat Plecotus auritus and soprano pipistrelle P. pygmaeus had been found. Other boxes had droppings found indicating that bats had been using them.

Many were juvenile bats, but a great start to the project. Needless to say all of the boxes were not checked this time round, but we will look at having another check in October.

The interesting thing was that we also found several tree roosts in Oak Querus robur in a small area of the wood. Jake (12 yrs old) had wondered off, so I went to find him, on the way I noticed several holes in trees and managed to find brown long eared droppings in one, at least one other hole had droppings as well.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

All Nighter

We undertook an all nighter at an undisclosed location in Bedfordshire on Friday into Saturday morning. 8 members of the group walked transects around the area for 2hrs, after which the sound analysis was undertaken.

There was masses of soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus and noctules Nyctalus noctula around the area making it very hard to pick out myotis spp. bats.

Later mist nets were put up but nothing was caught, this was followed by walking around the area from 4.00am to try and find dawn swarming of Myotis spp. bats. This si a lot harder than it seems as often the woodland doesn't get as light as open areas.

No myotis spp. roosts could not be found although several were heard around the area. the large roost already known at the location was amazing to watch come dawn, with hundreds of bats swarming.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

Bat Boxes

Danny Fellman has been using different designs of bat box were he works in Bedford to see if there is a preference, as mentioned before, I had a text message on Saturady to tell me that he had found a single pipistrelle Pipistrellus spp. in one of the boxes I designed.

This is the first bat to use this design of box, although it was designed with species other than pipistrelles in mind, at least the design works!!!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Mid Bedfordshire Woodland Surveys

A further woodland survey undertaken in mid Bedfordshire.

Several bats were mist netted including Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus, Natterers Myotis nattereri and brown long eared Plecotus auritus.

Others including soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Noctule Nyctalus noctula were also heard flying in the wood.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Further Woodland Surveys

Two woodland surveys have been undertaken over the last two days. One at Dunstable downs and the other at Luton Hoo.

The National Trust's site (Dunstable Downs): No bats were caught in the net but common pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus were heard.

Luton Hoo: A new area was checked in this large site. Not many bats were heard but soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and an unknown speceies were heard. Bob has made a recording of the unknown and hopefully will be able to ID the species from it. No bats were caught in the nets.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Bedfordshire's only Serotine Roost

Bedfordshire has only one known serotine Eptesicus serotinus roost, last year Phd student Caro Moussey came to the roost and ringed six bats as part of her Phd study. She returned in June but all the bats managed to escape the nets. On the 9th July she returned with a modified net and managed to catch six of the 11 bats in residence. Three of these had been ringed before and three hadn't. She has ringed the three (under licence) and taken samples for anaylsis.

Caro weighed and measured each bat, took a clip of fur for DNA anaylsis and took two biopsies from the wing (the bats are not harmed in anyway by doing this). The group noticed that on release from the hand the bats vibrated, with Caro saying this is typical serotine behaviour.

Caro's Phd is investigating the extent to which there is migration between serotine colonies in the UK and if there is migration from mainland Europe. She is also investigating genetic relationships between members of neighbouring colonies.

The Phd finishes in 2012 and the group are looking forward to the results.

The bat group hope to return to the roost annually to check how many of the bats come back each year.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Kings Wood Bat Box Project


A little while ago I mentioned that the group had a bat box project lined up for this summer.

Well I can now reveal that the project is set up with 50 woodcrete boxes being put up in the largest of Bedfordshire's woodlands.

These boxes will be left to weather in over the summer, probably being checked once this year.

The plan is no then check these the following summer roughly once a month.

For those without experience of seeing wild bats up close and for those training for their licence this will be a great opportunity to gain handling experience.

There is also a good chance of seeing species such as brandts Myotis brandtii or barbastelle Barbastellus barbastella

Once the first check is complete I'll bring an up date.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kings Wood update

We tried a different area in Kings wood last night.

Three mist nets were put up, but only one common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrllus was netted.

Brown Long Eared Plecotus auritus and Brandts Myotis brandtii were also heard. No barbastelles Barbastella barbastellus were heard.

Other than this it was a quite night with temperatures dropping off after sunset.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Noctule roost

Last monday the group undertook one of the regular suverys in the west of the county.

A week before a bat walk was undertaken there and a large number of Noctules Nyctalus noctula about.

On the Monday myself Bob. Mark and the others had a look around the trees and noticed that there were bats in one of them.

We hand netted the bat shown in the picture (Taken by Angie Cornwell) this turned out to be a pregant female. 21 bats were counted out of the roost but some may of been misssed, but a noctule pre-maternity roost has been found.


John Adams Roost

For over twenty two years the Bat Group has been monitoring a Common pipistrelle roost, which is believed to be a pre-maternity roost. We have in the past hand netted most years and these have always been females. On the 17th we found there to be a male and not only that but his Buccal galnds were enlarged. We are hoping to hand nett later this week to find out more.

Photos Jude Hirstwood


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Kings Wood Survey

Wednesday the 4th May saw the group head into the NNR of Kings Wood.

A mist nett was put up and the bat opposite was netted.

It would seem to be a Brandts bat Myotis brandtii, Bob managed to get a close up of the teeth (see below). There is clearly a protocone or cingulum cusp on premolar (p4) this is roughly the same size as of the smaller premolar (p3).

However every UK bat worker knows just how hard it is to ID brandts, whiskered and now of course alcathoe bats. If you think we have the ID wrong post a comment.

No barbastelles Barbastella barbastellus were heard, which is unusal as the wood is well known for them.

The next woodland survey will be on the 23rd May (to be confirmed) details will follow soon after.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Slaughters Wood Results


Eight members of the group turned up at the woodland last Friday. 14 bats in total were netted 8 of which were male common pipistrelles the other 6 escaped the net before they could be sexed.

A survey at Kings Wood will be taking place tonight and I will get the results up once I have them.


Saturday, 23 April 2011

May is here


May is pretty much round the corner now and the bat season proper is about to kick off, 29th April sees the first of the seasons woodland surveys in Luton. Its an unknown to the bat group but has promise, the guides (owners of the woodland) have given permission to mist net and do detector surveys.

I'll bring an update to you when the survey is complete.


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bat Season Finally Begins

Just a quick reminder that the bat season offically starts on Monday the 4th April, the first regular survey of the season will be taking place at Stockgrove CP meeting in the usually place at 7.15pm. Martin
Danny Fellman has been busy in the north of the county. Here he has put up a bat box of my design to see if any other species will use it. Its alongside a Kent box and wedge box for comparison. Keep watching this space for details on a scientific bat box project which the group hopes to start this season. We have secured the funding and Bob, Simon and others are looking around the woodland today to finalise the potential locations.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Hib's Surveys Feb


A total of 96 bats across the sites this Feb, only two sites had no bats

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hibernation Surveys (Jan)

Total count for the weekend was a 147 bats across all sites. This is the second highest count we have had sve for last Jan.

Notable points: A total of 25 Barbastelles across the sites, a record 22 BLE bats, only two sites had no bats at all. Daub's were down and also the number of peecocks and hearld moths.