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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Update to homemade harp trap

Some time ago now I said that we would be building a homemade harp trap.


Well I never got round to doing this for various reasons.

However Aidan Matthews did (see picture), at present I don't have the full details of how he did this, but I do know that it's made from white water pipe and some timber.

He had a bit of a nightmare stringing it, with the mono breaking several times but a quick adaptation sorted that problem.

It weighs approx. 11kg and can be erected in 20mins by one person.

He has promised that he will document the build and send me more photos on the construction. Once I have these I will post them.

Martin

Please note: In the UK you have to be licenced to use harp traps and mist netts by the government agency for your country e.g. Natural England, BBG has a number of licence holders for this equipment.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

First hibernation survey of 2012/13 winter

Hi

The first of three hibernation surveys was undertaken this weekend just gone.

The number of bats was an all-time record - 168 bats. The previous highest was 152 (last January).
The overall species tallies were:

89 Natterer's, 44 Daubenton's (a record - previous highest 30), 3 Myotis sp., 17 BLE, 13 Barbastelle, 2 unidentified.

16 sites were checked in total across the Bedfordshire area. Thanks to those who took part and to the owners of the sites for access.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Ash Dieback and Bats, update from BCT

5 December 2012
Bats and Chalara dieback of ash trees: December Update
Ash trees make an important contribution to biodiversity and wildlife habitat and this includes use by bats for roosting where suitable opportunities arise. The recent confirmation of dieback in ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) has implications for bats and UK biodiversity from the loss of trees to the disease and potentially from the measures put in place to limit the disease spread. BCT is working with the Forestry Commission to assess the situation as is it develops and put protocols and procedures in place that ensure that whilst carrying out the vital work to control the spread of the disease, that bats are protected.
The disease caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. It is a significant threat to one of our widespread native trees. Ash is the third most common broadleaf native tree species in Great Britain after oak and birch and is the predominant tree species in approximately 129,000 hectares of woodland in Britain. The fungus has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations in continental Europe and has the potential to kill millions of ash trees if it becomes widely established in Great Britain. The spread of this disease would pose a serious threat to associated biodiversity, including bats, and measures to prevent its spread are imperative. However, the potential for large-scale destruction of mature ash trees has raised concerns about the impact on roosting bats.
The current situation in December
The reported 100,000 trees already destroyed were all young transplants and nursery stock that were known or likely to be infected with C. fraxinea. Bats roost in mature ash trees and to date no mature trees were included in the destruction measures.
Initial work has focussed on identifying the locations where this disease is present. Initially this disease was thought to be, largely restricted to Norfolk and Suffolk. However, surveys carried out in recent weeks have found that its occurrence is more widespread across England including counties such as Yorkshire, Berkshire, East Sussex and Kent. It is thought likely that Chalara has been in this country for at least 2 years but was only recently discovered.
What happens next?
  • Any newly planted diseased trees or diseased trees in nurseries are being traced and destroyed.
  • If the disease is found a containment notice will be issued to prevent plant material being moved off site.
  • Mature trees will not currently be removed, as it has been acknowledged that they are valuable to wildlife, take longer to die and can enable more to be learnt about genetic strains that might be resistant to the disease.
Although there are currently no immediate plans to remove infected mature ash trees, the Forestry Commission and BCT will continue to work closely together to produce a protocol that would be effective in i) Controlling the spread of disease and (ii) Protect bats should the ash dieback situation change or in readiness for any similar future tree disease incidences.
You can find out more about Ash dieback and the latest news from the Forestry Commission here www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
We will keep the BCT website updated with further developments.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Some bats still active

 



Despite the dreadful weather, we have had several sightings of bats flying in daylight in the last week. Presumably they are taking a last minute opportunity to try to catch food.

If you see a bat flying (in Bedfordshire) please let us know via the bat group e mail or at bats@bnhs.org.uk

If you live outside Beds, you can record your sighting on the Bat Conservation Trust’s Big Bat Map http://www.bigbatmap.org/

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ash Dieback Diease and Bats

Ash dieback disease



The ash tree is a much loved part of the British landscape and is a feature of much folklore. Yggdrasill the world tree of Norse cosmology was an ash and was seen to connect us to the Otherworld.





It is not just bat workers who have been greatly saddened by the news that Ash die back disease in widespread in the Country .



Ash is an important habitat for many creatures including bats and if there is widespread removal of infected trees, this will have a catastrophic effect on wildlife.


The Bat Conservation Trust is working very closely with The Forestry Commission to develop an appropriate policy to deal with this out break.
BCT logo

1 November 2012
Bats and Chalara dieback of ash trees

Ash trees make an important contribution to biodiversity and wildlife habitat and this includes use by bats for roosting where suitable opportunities arise. The recent confirmation of dieback in ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) has implications for bats and UK biodiversity from the loss of trees to the disease and potentially from the measures put in place to limit the disease spread. BCT is working with the Forestry Commission to assess the situation as is it develops and put protocols and procedures in place that ensure that whilst carrying out the vital work to control the spread of the disease, that bats are protected.
The disease caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and it can lead to tree death. It is a significant threat to one of our widespread native trees. Ash is the third most common broadleaf native tree species in Great Britain after oak and birch and is the predominant tree species in approximately 129,000 hectares of woodland in Britain. The fungus has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations in continental Europe and has the potential to kill millions of ash trees if it becomes widely established in Great Britain. The spread of this disease would pose a serious threat to associated biodiversity, including bats, and measures to prevent its spread are imperative. However, the potential for large-scale destruction of mature ash trees has raised concerns about the impact on roosting bats.
The current situation
The reported 50,000 trees already destroyed were all young transplants and nursery stock that were known or likely to be infected with C. fraxinea. Bats roost in mature ash trees and to date no mature trees were included in the destruction measures.
Immediate work is focusing on identifying the locations where this disease is present. Currently this is largely restricted to Norfolk and Suffolk.
What happens next?
  • If the disease is found a containment notice will be issued to prevent plant material being moved off site.
  • Whether further containment action is required, such as tree felling, will be determined once the extent of disease after the initial survey work has been determined. The fungus does not produce spores at this time of year so immediate action is not required.
  • If it is decided that some felling action is required then a destruction notice will be placed on the site.
In the interim time the Forestry Commission and BCT will work closely together to produces a protocol that will i) Control the spread of the disease and (ii) Protect bats.
You can find out more about Ash dieback and the latest news from the Forestry Commission here http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara
We will keep the BCT website updated with further developments.”
http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/167/bats_and_chalara_dieback_of_ash_trees
We wish them well and our keeping our toes and fingers crossed
The Defra website says
There are no plans to stop public access to forests and woodland as there is a very low risk of people transmitting the disease from area to area
The fungal spores are spread by the wind. There is no evidence of transmission by humans or animals.

Monday, 22 October 2012

October Bat Box Check

 



Photo Laura Gravestock

The final bat check of the season took place on Saturday. All 53 boxes were checked and four were found to be occupied, one box had one soprano pipistrele, one had two and a third had three. The “winning” box had fifteen brown long eared bats in it including the one below which had unusually big eyes. It did not squint as it was brought into the light and we did wonder if it had something wrong with its sight



Brown long eared bat Photo Laura Gravestock



Photo Bob Cornes

When we find a bat we process it and then return it to its box. To prevent the bat flying off in the daylight, we stopper the box with some sponge, to give the bat time to settle. We wait 20 minutes before removing the stopper. While Aidan was waiting for the twenty minute to be up , he noticed a crack in a nearby tree. Looking closer he spotted a bat deep in the cavity – too deep to be identified. This is the second tree roost we have found while checking boxes and he first one that has been occupied. This is the final check of the year but we will be back next season.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Swarming Survey at Luton Hoo

Hi All,

On Friday 5 of the team headed up to Luton Hoo to check for Autumn swarming around the hibernation site.

We know from past surveys that the site is used for this type of bat behaviour.

Two mist nets were put up, the first a 6m approx. 3m from the hibernation sites entrance and the second a 9m approx. 10m from the entance at a right angle to it.

In past surveys there has been almost constant activity around the small block of woodland that the hibernation site is situated in, however this time bats were lacking.

At about 20.35 a male brown long eared (BLEB) bat was caught in the 9m net. This gave Aidan the chance to remove the bat, as he is training for his licence. At around 21.35 another BLEB was caught, this time a female. Laura Gravestock extracted this one.

                                          BLEB extracted by Aidan, Photo: M O'Connor

All in all it was a bad night although Myotis bats were lacking from the site this year.

Another session is scheduled for the 4th Oct so with any luck the mytois bats will be about this time.

M


Friday, 28 September 2012

Confirmed Brandts Bat

 

As we said in a, it is very hard distinguish between Brandt’s, whiskered and Alcathoe Bat. So we were pleased to be able to take advantage of modern technology and get a DNA analysis done on some droppings. The results came back yesterday (that was quick) and we are delighted that our identification was correct. We can now confirm that the bat pictured below is a Brandt’s Bat.
Photo Bob Cornes Brandt’s Bat

Box Boxes Checks

 

Photo Bob Cornes

We got round 32 of the boxes on Sunday before the rain came in.

Two of the boxes were occupied, both for the first time. One had 6 Soprano Pips
(five females and a smug male) and the other had 18 BLEs (9 females and
9 males).

It had begun to rain hard by the time we checked the last box which had the brown long eared bats in. So we took measurements and put then back in the box before they got wet and so took no photos. The plan is to check the remaining boxes tomorrow, if it will just stop raining.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Additional info on the Geofforys bat

The bat was a male and was caught during a survey of autumn swarming bats near the Sussex coast.

Autumn swarming is a phenomenon which occurs at some (but not all) hibernation sites. Bats fly, sometimes over significant distances, to a hibernation site and fly around the entrance for a while. The name 'swarming' is not entirely appropriate because the number of bats flying at any one time can be quite small.

Males spend longer at swarming sites than females do, so that captures of bats usually show a preponderance of males even though probably similar numbers of females and males are involved overall. The functions of autumn swarming behaviour are not entirely clear, but probably include mating between individuals from different colonies (resulting in reduction of inbreeding), scouting out hibernation sites in advance of winter, and allowing juveniles to locate regularly used hibernation sites.

Bat species involved in this behaviour are the Myotis species, long-eared bats, Barbastelles and horseshoe bats. Recent work in Bedfordshire by the Bat Group has shown that several of our better-used hibernation sites have swarming activity of Natterer's, Daubenton's and Brown Long-Eared Bats and Barbastelles.

Geoffroy's Bat has not previously been recorded in Britain as far as I know, but it is present in coastal regions of northern France and southern Belgium.

The presence of a male at a swarming site in coastal Sussex is therefore not too surprising. Geoffroy's joins a list of European bat species which have been found in mainland Britain on one or more occasions - Kuhl's Pipistrelle, Savi's Pipistrelle, Parti-Coloured Bat, Northern Bat, Greater Mouse-Eared Bat (declared extinct in Britain in 1991, but still regularly recorded as a single male in a hibernation site in Sussex), Pond Bat and European Free-Tailed Bat.

There is no evidence at present of any of these species being resident in Britain. On the other hand, this was exactly the view taken of Nathusius' Pipistrelle until the discovery in the 1990s that it was breeding in both Britain and Ireland (and we have records of flying bats in Bedfordshire). The Alcathoe Bat was even more startling, with no British records until it was found, in 2010, to be present in both Sussex and Yorkshire. Also, with the effects of global warming on bat distribution extremely difficult to predict, it could well be that some European bat species could move into Britain in the next few years.

It's also worth noting that we have evidence of behavioual changes in Myotis bats in Bedfordshire woods very recently - Natterer's Bat, for example, has been notably absent during woodland surveys in the last few weeks at sites where it is usually found very easily. It could be a result of the unusual weather patterns this year, but who knows what to expect in the next few years?

Bob Cornes

National Trust Press Release


National Trust Press Release

 

For immediate release – 12.09.2012

 

Species of bat discovered for the first time in the UK

 

A species of bat normally found in continental Europe – the Geoffroy’s bat - has been identified in the UK for the first time ever on National Trust land in West Sussex.

 

Ecologist Daniel Whitby was conducting surveys in early September when he caught a male Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginatus), a small species which weights between six and nine grams and has woolly fur with a foxy red tint to it. 

 

Daniel Whitby, a Consultant Ecologist and bat specialist, said:

 

“It was a real surprise to catch this bat. Geoffroy’s bat is nicknamed the Notch-eared bat because it has a distinctive notch in the top part of its ear, with this, along with other identification features; I quickly realized what an interesting bat I was holding”

 

“Bats are an amazingly diverse group with over 1200 species worldwide and 17 species known to be breeding in the UK, making up over a third of our native British mammals, yet we still know surprisingly little about them.

 

“This is the second new species recorded in the UK in the past few years after Alcathoe’s bat was also discovered in Sussex and through research we are slowly learning about the habitats of these fascinating but misunderstood creatures”

 

The National Trust is currently working closely with other conservation organisations on the South Downs to improve its habitat management for bats in woodland and on downland.

 

Dr David Bullock, the Trust’s Head of Nature Conservation said:

“This is great news and shows the importance of the bat survey and monitoring work we do. Geoffroy’s bat is found in continental Europe, including northern France, where it can be found foraging for insects over scrub and grassland.

 

“It may be that this individual is part of a colony or it may be another example of a new species moving in from the Continent as we improve our habitat management and as our climate warms. Like all other bats, it has protected status”

 

ENDS

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bat box Checks

It was with a sinking heart that brave bat group members headed out to check the 53 bat boxes on a hot and humid Saturday. Carrying ladders and other kit through the wood was really hard work.

By the end of the search , two boxes each had a single bat in.

Find of the day was the last box checked before lunch which contained 29 bats – 13 mothers , 13 juveniles and three male bats. – and a lot of mites which were present in large numbers, particularly on the juveniles.

It is probably best to draw a veil over the behaviour of the very hungry bitey insects, but our intrepid surveyors have impressive scars

We weren’t able to get a photo of them in situ, but the picture below shows a rather cheery individual who consented to have its picture taken.
Photo Bob Cornes Brown long eared bat
 
 
This brings the number of bats boxes to show bat signs in 32 boxes since we started checking the boxes last September

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Bat Group on Three Counties Radio

Bob and Bat at Three Counties radio. Photo by Three Counties Radio

Yesterday saw Bob on Three Counties radio talking to Nick Coffer. He stopped off on the way to pick up the captive bat but wasn’t aware the bat’s caretaker was in the shower and couldn't hear him knocking on the door.

Martin on the way back from a meeting heard this and rushed home, picked up the bat and headed down to Three Counties to deliver it.

This made for quite exciting radio as Nick Coffer announced, in a slightly nervous voice “We have just had a bat delivered to the studio” He said he was a bit nervous of bats, but admitted that our captive bat was rather nice.

He was somewhat taken back by Bob’s T shirt , which he had bought at the Jeremy Deller exhibition , but Bob was at pains to explain that bats in Britain are gentle creatures.Nic seemed genuinely interested in what Bob to say.

Thanks to Three Counties for inviting us

Tagged Natterers update

Bob and Phil spent half a day with a radio transmitter scouring Flitwick Moor and environs in the hunt for the Natterer’s bat tagged the night before.

They located the signal on farmland near the Moor. With the permission of the land owner Bob and Gwen returned last night to see if they could locate the bat.

We were very puzzled as the signal seemed to be coming from a scrappy hedge – not at all the place you would think a Natterer’s would roost. And, alas, you would have been right.

We located the tag, but not the bat, in the middle of a harvested corn field. The bat had obviously succeeded in shrugging off the tag.

(We think in hindsight that the glue we used was ineffective)

We were sad that this happened , but relieved to have reclaimed he tag which has been unsoldered and can now be used if we manage to tag another bat. (Tags cost upwards of £60)

Natterers Bat radio tagged at Flitwick Moor

Flitwick Moor Photo Jude Hirstwood

Flitwick Moor is one of the most atmospheric sites in Bedfordshire. Walk across the central drain and it is like going back into primeval forest. I would never be surprised if a gigantic dragonfly flew past or a pterodactyl dive bombed from the sky.

The water is iron rich and brick coloured. Many of the trees have their roots immersed in water. I’ve never seen anything like it in this country. Strangely as night falls it becomes an altogether more benevolent place.

Flitwick Moor is a Wildlife Trust site and we have done surveys there before with them. One of our ambitions was to locate the Natterer’s roost which we think is in the wood.

A few years back we caught three Natterer’s in quick succession early in the evening. When we returned, the bats got wind of this and made sure they never came near the net.

We tried again last night and this time we were successful.
A radio tagged Natterer’s bat. Photo Henry Stanier. Wildlife Trust

Last night I am pleased to report was different. A number of nets were set up and those present waited patiently. In the end we only caught one bat – but it was a female Natterer’s which we were able to radiotag .( NB Mistnetting and Radiotagging can only be done with some one who has an appropriate licence for Natural England)

Had it been a male we would not have tagged it as the males are solitary and what we are looking for is the roost

Friday, 6 July 2012

Habitat modelling for bats



For some years now scientists have been studying bat record and correlating them with a range of habitat features. From this they have developing models of where the particular species of bat is likely to be found. This is the work that Lia Gilmour is doing at Bristol university on Bechstein’s bat. We have been helping her look for this bat which has never been recorded in Bedfordshire. So far we have found nothing, but the weather has been dreadful She will be looking at sites in Wales in a few weeks.

Meanwhile a similar computer model has successfully predicted the occurrence of a very rare bat. This grey long eared bat was found in Wales- much to the delight of everyone involved
Orly Razgour the researcher who predicted where the bat would be, shares a lab with Lia Gilmour and we have donated bat droppings to her project from Daubenton.s Natterer’s and brown long eared bats we have caught, for use in comparative DNA studies.
Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18577420

A bad Bat Year

Photo Daniel Hargreaves

The Bat Conservation Trust has just posted the message below on Facebook. So far we have got off lightly in Bedfordshire but friends elsewhere are reporting large scale abandonment of young. In Beds the bats we caught earlier in the season showed little sign of pregnancy, so we think they will give birth later than usual.

We fund our bat care from donations made at talks and events.The Bat Conservation fields calls and passes them on to the relevant bat group. You can check whether the bat you have found is a youngster. ( Adult bats are not THAT big) here 2011-7 What to with a grounded bat
“A bad year for bats? (Please share widely.)
Batworkers are concerned that 2012 will be a difficult year for already struggling UK bat populations. In May 2012, the Bat Conservation Trust’s Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) saw a 50% increase in calls relating to bat-care, and in June the number of calls about baby bats and bat maternity roosts has declined.
Read more: http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/157/a_bad_year_for_bats_bat_conservation_trust_appeals_for_donations
The Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) provides a unique and vital service, and is currently responding to over 100 calls a day. Please show your support and donate today: http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/157/a_bad_year_for_bats_bat_conservation_trust_appeals_for_donations
Young bat photo Hazel Ryan

This tiny creature is in fact several days old, newborn bats are hairless.

NEw Bat Call Book



Great excitement in the bat world this morning as the new book by Jon Russ has finally been published after a very long delay. Thanks to Pelagic Press for coming to the rescue . At first glance it seems well worth the wait, especially as there are now colour illustrations of calls.
Thanks to Jon for giving such clear explanations

Monday, 4 June 2012

Bat Box Checking

As a prelude to the third day of the hunt for the Bechsteins, Bob and Lia headed off to our third wood, which we reckoned was our best bet yet. It was our last so we could get the hang of the technique.


Lia Gilmour shows the site for the harp trap Photo Bob Cornes

Photo Bob Cornes



Brown long eared bat - Photo by Bob Cornes
They combined looking for sites with partial check of the bat boxes there.There were no bats at home last month, so expectations were low. However the first box that was examined had 15 Brown long eareds in, and in all four of the 30 boxes we checked were occupied. This included 2 male and four female brown long eared bats in a 2F box, the first we have have found occupied. Most of the females were obviously pregnant.The one on the above is one of the males


Brown long eared bat Photo Lia Gilmour


Looking for Bechsteins – Day Two

We watched with trepidation as the weather forecast got gloomier and gloomier as the day went on. Bob and Lia went off to have a look at wood 2 and found a couple of good mist netting spots.


The Sherpas take a break. Photo Jude Hirstwood
At 8pm we gathered to take the gentle stroll into the wood – and once again were all too aware of just how much equipment we were lugging.

We set up base camp and while the harp traps were being put up there were numbers of soprano pipistrelles flying overhead. While waiting for the 11pm start time two of the groups walked round the paths with a bat detector. They met up with a group of lads who were camping in the wood. ( Later that night as we were collecting remote detectors they were met again – searching for their tent which they couldn’t find in the dark).
Photo Jude Hirstwood
Lia was keen for us to catch a Natterer’s and we were able to do so for her, which made her a very happy bunny as this picture shows.




Photo Bob Cornes



This was the first time we had ever visited this wood and we were delighted by the fact we caught four Daubenton’s, two in the mist nets and two in the harp trap. This included a very pregnant female who was quickly released and this gentleman who was heavier than the pregnant female was.


Photo Lia Gilmour
Daubenton’s have huge feet which they use to pick insects off the surface of the water. If you look closely you can see the hairs on the feet that help catch their prey.




Photo Lia Gilmour


Another useful diagnostic feature is the ring of bare skin around the eye.







We also caught a couple of soprano pipistrelles who pulled a trick beloved of pipistrelles – if in doubt play dead. We spent a considerable time coaxing them back into life but they did finally fly off just as we were ready to go home.



Sadly no Bechstein’s tonight, but we were delighted to find those Daubenton’s as we don’t often get them in woods and we think that there is a roost nearby . Bob and Lia saw some promising holes on the morning survey. This is a wood we shall be returning to. Who knows we might even catch a Bechstein’s. (without a harp trap or lure, but if you are going to dream, dream big)

Looking for Bechstein’s Day One

Lia Gilmour joined us yesterday with an impressive pile of equipment. She and Bob went out to look for suitable trapping sites in Kings Wood Houghton Conquest. The wood was looking particularly fine
Photo Bob Cornes



While we were there we found a beautiful Light Emperor moth

 As night fell, a small group of people staggered into the wood carrying equipment and set up harp traps , lures and mist nets, then settled down to wait
Photo Bob Cornes


Bill looks like he is bored to death here, but he is daydreaming about owning a Griffin one day.


Photo Bob Corrnes
Brown long eared bat Photo Bob Cornes

Lia took charge of the harp trap

This brown long eared bat was a gentle soul

Photo Bob Cornes Noctule
We also caught this male Noctule who looks very gentle but was a feisty gentleman who really didn’t approve of being caught and was very vocal in his complaints.
No Bechstein’s though – better luck next time.
On examining the recordings we made we can confirm the presence of barbastelle in this wood.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Serotine Roost

Last night fourteen of us headed over to visit the serotine roost. The house owners warned us that they had only seen one bat the night before, so we were resigned not to see many bats.
Photo Jude Hirstwood
We used two long handled nets ( serotines are well known for liking roofs with a high apex) and the team took it in turns to get aching arms.


Photo Jude HIrstwood
Serotines are sneaky beasts and are very skilled at eluding capture. After we caught the first bat, we had to swap nets and they took this split second opportunity to sneak a couple of bats out. They did this every time and after an hour we had caught six bats but nine had escaped and flew victory circuits round the garden before swooping off along a nearby hedgerow.

This roost has been part of a Ph.D. project ( See 2011-10-serotine ringing) and any bats we caught were ringed and had DNA samples taken.We returned to the roost in order to check whether any of the ringed bats had returned. Three of them had. We also took the opportunity to check the rings had not caused any wing damage. There was no sign of any, nor of any scarring left from the wing punches.
Aidan checking wing length Photo Jude Hirstwood
In all nine bats escaped and we caught six.
They were all female and three of them had been ringed previously. One was ringed as a juvenile last year. All the bats were in fine condition, though we did notice that they were lighter than last year , suggesting that this bad weather has had an effect. We also checked wing length. We could detect no sign of pregnancy in any of the bats. In difficult conditions bats can slow down fetal development and this may be what happened.
A delighted Aidan Photo Jude Hirstwood
For many of those present, this was the first time they had seen serotines in the hand, and as a result there were a lot of very happy faces to be seen




Photo Jude Hirstwood
We also took the opportunity of taking some photos. This was not always easy as some of the bats were very squirmy,  but we did get some good photos eventually




Photo Jude Hirstwood
This bat on the other hand was more media friendly and sat still while her photo was taken.

Photo Jude Hirstwood

Friday, 11 May 2012

Looking for Bechsteins



Photo of Bechstein's bat by Derek Smith, Surrrey Bat Group
The Bat Conservation Trust has been running a project to look for Bechstein’s bat. Our neighbour the North Bucks Bat Group found a number of Bechstein’s when they were part of the project. They have since carried on their research into Bechstein’s.

We don’t get them in Bedfordshire.

Now Lia Gilmour is doing an MSc to see whether the data collected by this project can be used too predict Bechstein distribution.

We will be working with her to see if we can find them in some woods in Bedfordshire. We get a loan of a harp trap and an Autobat so we can follow the protocol devised by The Bat Conservation Trust.

We are lucky that some members of the North Bucks group are going to help us out.
We are hoping to do surveys in June. So keep your fingers crossed that the weather will improve, It is unlikely that we will find Bechstein’s but we may find other interesting species and it is well worth the try.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bat Box Checks

The second of the box checks were undertaken yesterday.

 We found nothing in March and were not expecting much today as it is still quite early in the season for bats to be using boxes. And we were right. The team checked all fifty boxes and no bats were in – though a number of boxes did have bird’s nests in them, and some had bat droppings. This is not unusual and we hope the bats will move in once the birds have raised their broods. Some bat box projects put up bird boxes as well to leave the bat boxes free for bats. In Wytham Wood in Oxford, the reverse happens and bats move into the bird boxes, When we used to check boxes at Whipsnade they were always occupied by blue tits never by bats

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

1st Woodland Survey of the year

Morning all,

I will be undertaking the first of the woodland surveys tomorrow evening (assuming the rains stops). We will be looking at a small number of woodlands in Luton were no records are currently held.

Most of these run in a line from Round Green to the Hertfordshire border, at teh moment I have permission to mist net and look at at least three woods. I am hoping to gain access to other woods running along the boundary.

Martin

National Planning Policy Framework and BCT's new guidelines

Hi all,

National Planning Policy Framework:

On the 27th of March 2012 the Government released the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This document has streamlined the planning policies that were implemented by the local authorities in a planning context.

Planning Policy Statement 9 (Biodiversity) is no longer valid, however circular 06/05 is to be used in conjunction with NPPF.

There were concerns from the nature conservation movement when the draft of the NPPF was published, the focus was on sustainable development, however there was no definition of what this was!!

In the NPPF which is now in force this has been revised somewhat compared with the draft, to include a definition of sustainable development.

So why was there so much concern?

Put simply the EU habitats directive and bird directive had been mostly ignored. After a lot of lobbing from the major nature organisations such as BCT, the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and National Trust amendments were made.

Most importantly were EU protected species are concerned there is no presumption in favour of sustainable development. As in the previous planning polices, full and up to date information concerning the species should be available.

What this means in practise we are yet to find out, but the interpretation should be that full surveys for protected species should have been undertaken before planning is granted.

New BCT Survey Guidelines:

At roughly the same time the new 2nd edition of the BCT survey guidelines have been released. These are now much more focused on the commercial ecology industry.

Clarification of some of the minor issues from the previous 1st edition have been made clearer e.g. the consultant is to use expert judgement and the guidelines to make decisions.

Another issue was the de-facto two dusk and one dawn survey, the guidance now says that if a dusk/dawn is undertaken in the same 24hr period that is classed as one survey.

I hazard a guess that this will cause further issues as no definition of a 24hr period is given, common sense would say that this should be a 24hr rotation of the clock, however I can see that certain people will interpret this differently.

Overall the guidance should clear up minor issues from the 1st edition and make the consultants job easier.

Martin

Monday, 16 April 2012

East of England Bat Conference

Hi all,

Saturday saw the second East of England regional bat conference.

There were some very good talks and the chance for some networking.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Season Begins

Morning all

The bat season offically starts today, with the first survey kicking off tomorrow evening at Stockgrove CP.

Athough bats have and will be about the temperatures are not looking to good, usually a temperture of 5oC or above means there will be plenty of bat activity, however the days of late have been great but night-time temperatures have been low, with tonights low expected to be 1oC.

This means that the invertebrates that bats prey on are unlikely to be about and therefore bat activity will be low.

Hopefully we will hear the usual species, and it gives us a chance to 'get our ear' back in.

Martin

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Midlands Conference

Hi all,

I went to the midlands conference yesterday to run a bats and trees workshop. Having arrived on site at about 10.50am I sat in on the main talks until the workshop went ahead at 2pm.

Having never been to the site before I was a little concerned that there wouldn't be any good 'bat trees' but after walking around for an hour, there was plenty to choose from.

Hopefully the walk and talk wasn't to bad and everyone learnt something!!!

Martin

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Yesterday, A small number of the BBG and a colleague were doing a badger training day, we were in Kings Wood (Houghton Conquest) and we happened apon an oak tree with a hole in it.

Polly had her endoscope on her so we had a look, where were a minimum of two brown long eared bats and a possible third in the cavity.

Martin

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dawn Swarming

video
This short clip taken by Angie Cornwell in the summer shows dawn swarming at the largest soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmeaus roost in Bedfordshire.

The roost consists at its peak in excess of 1500 bats, being a maternity roost. It has been monitored for several years now and numbers have been growing year on year. The main concern was that the space they use to roost would be to small for much more expansion, however several licenced members gained access into the roost over winter and it would seem that there is still plenty of space for growth yet.

The above clip is a snap shot of the dawn swarming process, which can last for up to and beyond an hour, this is were lots of bats fly around the entrances to their roosts (swarm) before entering the roost for the day. There are two types of swarming the dawn as above and autumn swarming which is quite different.

Autumn swarming is a prolonged process happening over several hours and late into the night, involving far fewer bats. It occurs at hibernation sites, and several thoeries have been suggested as to why bats do this.

One of these is that the mothers are showing that years young the hibernation sites, another is that its has something to do with mating ensuring that genetic diversity is maintained in a population. Most bat groups are now undertaking work at autumn swarming sites to learn more about this behaviour.

Martin

Third Hibernation Survey


On the weekend of the 11th February the group undertook their final hibernation check of the winter. As it turns out the totals for this February was a record count with 125 bats across all the sites. The two pictures above show two of the species which were found.

These were taken by myself (Martin O'Connor) the top one is a barbastelle Barbastellus barbastella one of 10 located in the largest of the hibernation sites, with the bottom one being a brown long eared bat Plecotus auritus.

 On the Sunday a rather cold looking BLEB was found in another site, see below:

You can see the frost on the bat above, does make you wonder if the bat has survived.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Hibernating Lesser

Myself and the better half went to Cheddar for the weekend, whilst wondering around the caves we came across this little fellow.

There were about 6 lesser horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros in the two caves we went into.There were almost certainly more bats in there but with the number of crevices and large chimneys in the roof of the cave we were lucky to see the ones we did.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Homemade Harp Trap

Hi all,

The bat group have decided to build there own harp trap this winter.

Aidan, Bob and I are just coming up with idea's at the moment but I will bring you more news as and when we have started the project.

I am hoping to document the process so can bring you the design and stages to completion.

Martin

Monday, 16 January 2012

Second Hibernation Survey


Over the weekend the group undertook the second hibernation survey across Bedfordshire. In total 146 bats of five speceis were found across the sites. The largest site had 101 bats found, including two pipistrelles Pipistrellus spp.

The photo above shows two different speceis in a bat brick in one of the purpose built hibernation sites across the county. Can you identifiy them?

There is one final survey in January, I will be leading on the Saturday and am hoping to see the six barbastelles Barbastella barbastellus that were found in the largest site. One barbastelle was found in a little site on the Sunday, which in the past has had them in.

I bring another update once these are complete.

Martin