Thursday, 2 January 2014


OOH! - That would be the 'Out of Hours' Helpline. Just don't call it the Bat-phone!

0845 1300 228

Having come across the Bat Conservation Trust's Out of Hours Helpline through my work at BBC News and on realising they were crewing up I thought 'perfect'! 

You can offer as many or as few evenings or weekends you have available a month and rotas are drawn up on a month by month basis and can be flexible if needed. 

Who could resist helping this fellow?

So I responded to the email address posted on and having chatted with Sabah, the Out of Hours Project Co-ordinator, signed up for a trip to the bat cave, otherwise known as the Bat Conservation Trust Offices, for an evening's training with Sabah and Jess (Bat Care Network Co-ordinator). 

After the talks and powerpoints, and a session using the super straightforward internet based computer systems, I left the offices fully briefed on the systems, up to speed on all aspects of bat care advice and raring to go. 

A folder packed full of reminder info under my arm I headed home. For home is where the help is... 

Manning the 'bat-phone' - D'oh!
As an Out of Hours Volunteer you commit to being at home, in front of a computer for your shift - typically during the week it's from 5.30pm to 11 pm one evening and then from 7 am to 9am the next morning - or during the day, or evenings at weekends. You have a member of staff to whom you can turn if you get any particularly tricky calls (for example if anyone is scratched, bitten or reports a suspected foreign bat landing in the UK) but the basics are wonderfully simple. 

Calls to the Helpline get diverted to the phone number you provide (my mobile has never been so busy!) so you pick up your phone and you're off. You log on to the computer system that guides you through important information to get from the caller and reminds you of the key messages you should pass on and then you log into BCT's most prized system of all, the Bat Care Network. 

The charity could not provide the bat care help without this network of wonderful individuals who permit BCT to either give out their numbers or to be contacted in the event of a bat needing help in their locality. 

The carers on the list are dotted right around the UK and entries outline availability and what they can and can't undertake in terms of bat care. As a helpline volunteer you take the call and after chatting to the individual who has rung you to establish what help they need you either offer the advice or put them in touch with their local carers - job done!

Obviously it's not quite that simple. Each call is different and you meet some wonderful people on the end of the phone. Sometimes callers are concerned only with the welfare of the bat that's in trouble, and want to know what they can do to help, sometimes they are scared themselves, troubled by their visitor or letting you know of someone boarding up a roost site or chopping down a tree. Bat roosts are protected by law and we have an Investigations Officer who assists in investigating and reporting bat crime to the Police to whom we refer such calls.

The Out of Hours service is an emergency service so general routine queries are logged or asked to call back during the BCT's working hours - but no one goes away unassisted! 

The Emergency calls can come through in fits and starts and its often noticeable how bat activity seems to happen in geographical areas on a given evening - one night you will get a lot of calls from a rural part of Scotland, another week it could be south Wales that most folk call from - it makes you think the bats are chatting with one-another and picking their times to get into trouble! You can have evenings when it barely rings and other nights when it's relentless!

I've taken calls on bats in hairdressers, hallways of homes, behind hanging baskets, from a parade ground in an army barracks, a school and high rise block of flats in west London. If you find a bat out and about in the daytime it's usually in trouble and always worth giving us a call. I love it when I get a call back to update me on progress or resolution - and get to hear some lovely stories of successful releases!

Last summer there were a few calls of bats flying around in homes, having flown in through an open door or window (presumably following insects attracted by the lights). They get in a flap when in doors with lights, noise and people and pets. The best instant advice if a bat is flying around a room is to close the interior doors, get folk out of the way, turn off lights and noisy radios and TVs and open the windows.  Bats inside are trying to get out and this often allows them the space to find their way out! 

Cats have been at the bottom of most of the calls I worked on over last summer - either bringing in bats as 'gifts' for their owners or being seen stalking an injured, grounded bat. 
With a cat-caused injury a bat will need specialist care - and probably antibiotics - so it's one that we will always refer to a carer to administer help. 

Bat care box

Basic bat care advice is always given to the caller, to contain the bat (if it's not flying) and meet its immediate needs (namely popping it in a well ventilated box with a lid, with a towel in which to snuggle and a few drops of water to drink in a lid from something like a milk carton) and they are always asked to handle the bat as little as possible, and always use gloves if they are going to. You don't want to hurt yourself or the bat and while bats seldom bite or scratch there is a very small risk of a rabies-like virus from handling an infected bat (which is itself extremely rare - very few bats have tested positive for this virus in the last 20 years of testing).

It's always lovely when folk engage and want to learn about bats - for some it’s their first encounter with these lovely little mammals – it’s often the start of a new interest and people often ask for leaflets and information about bats to be sent to them. Most people are astonished at how small they are and how cute!

I have chatted with lovely people, helped hundreds of bats through the advice I've given or the experts I've put in touch with bats in need. It's been a great volunteer experience and one which will suit even the relatively time poor wildlife lover! You get to help some fabulous people and some magical mammals!  I also ended up moving to BCT in a different role after I had started as a volunteer so it’s not just the bats’ lives that you get to change for the better!

Abi McLoughlin Out of Hours Volunteer 2013

JUST IN CASE YOU EVER NEED IT  : 0845 1300 228

BASIC BAT CARE:1. Contain the bat:a) Like a spider, by placing a box on top of it and sliding a piece of card underneath.b) alternatively, cover the bat with a cloth/teatowel and carefully scoop it up and place it in the box.2. Put a tea towel or soft cloth in the box for the bat to hide in.3. Put in a small, shallow container e.g. a plastic milk bottle top with a few drops of water (not enough for the bat to drown in). Make sure the water is topped up regularly.4. Keep the bat indoors somewhere quiet and dark5. Most importantly, call the Bat Helpline on 0845 1300 228 for local bat carer numbers.Only a bat that has been confirmed as fit and healthy by a bat carer should be released, and never during the day. Always wear gloves if handling a bat. Tell someone immediately if you are bitten or scratched.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Scottish Conference

The Scottish Bat Workers Conference 2013

Anne Youngman, our Scottish officer writes ……

Hurrah, the Scottish Bat Workers Conference 2013 is now done and dusted for another year ….. After a short break to draw breathe it’s time to reflect on how it went and to start planning for 2014.
So how was it? Read onto find out more.

Battleby Conference Centre
The event was held at the Scottish Natural Heritage conference centre at Battleby near Perth. This is an ideal venue; great facilities for talks and workshops, helpful staff and is set in perfect bat habitat. It even has its own bat roosts in the buildings and in centrally heated bat boxes. 

Battleby Conference centre

Biggest so far - The venue was packed almost to capacity with just over 140 attendees. I was a bit worried that with so many people we’d never get the toilet, coffee and lunch queues processed in the available breaks. However there were no signs of people either fainting from hunger or standing cross legged so I believe everything flowed smoothly.  
Delegates arrive at registration

Workshops galore – there were 9 workshop options to choose from with (hopefully) something for everyone, no matter what their particular batty interest or level of skill.  The needlefelting workshop produced some new bat species (never before seen in Scotland or the world for that matter)

       Tracey Joliffe with her loveable BLE

Heather Macfarlane with the “MacFarlane’s Mango” bat

  “Amazing Lisa”

Lisa Worledge was a real star. When Kate Barlow was unable to lead the Sound analysis workshop Lisa was rapidly promoted from workshop assistant to workshop leader and rose brilliantly (if slightly nervously) to the occasion.

 Brian Boag enjoys the Sound Analysis workshop (who wouldn’t in such delightful company!

 More beautiful bat girls enjoying Sound Analysis
Other workshops included:

Introduction to Analook (lead by John Haddow)

 Bat to basics workshop with Ben Ross and Beth Wilson

Raffle, Sales and displays – The raffle made £90.00, however it was not featured very prominently so next year I will make the prizes more obvious and hope to raise even more money towards the Scottish Bat Project.

During break times attendees were able to watch;
a film by Stuart Pritchard showing the bats in the centrally heated bat box , 
·         *another film featuring the Scottish species champions ( Made by Scottish Environment LINK)
·         *a rolling power point by John Haddow showing this summer’s work on Arran “Looking for Leislers”

The Fifes Knitted Nature project displayed whole ecosystems of knitted plants, animals (including bats of course) and fungi, representing all the biodiversity action plan species in the Kingdom of Fife.

Fifes Knitted Nature species delighted and charmed attendees

Delegates were able to stock up on Christmas presents.  Jackie O’Hara brought an assortment of her own hand made cards, bags and other bat related delights, while the beautiful cards by Lyn Wells (Artful creatures) sold out completely. 

 Jackie O’Hara and her beautifully batty arts and crafts

 Lyn Wells(Artful Creatures) – Her cards sold out completely!

Unfortunately I think the lovely batty clock by crafty clocks was rather overlooked by delegates (there was so much else to see). However If you’d like to order a clock before Christmas and enter “Bat Conference“ in the comments box when you make your order a donation will be made to BCT for each bat clock sold.  
Feedback – from the conference was very positive, of the 65 feedback forms returned 41 rated the day as EXELLENT overall, 17 as Good, no lower ratings were given (and some people forgot to turn over the page!)   However I won’t rest on my laurels, next year the delegates list will be sent out a little earlier and the raffle will be made more obvious. 

It only remains to say some HUGE THANK YOUs, to everyone who delivered a talk or workshop and to the caterers and staff at Battleby who looked after us extremely well.
See you next year  J on 8th November.

Time flies!

Anne Youngman
Scottish Officer, BCT, December 2013

Thursday, 5 December 2013

BCT has Christmas all sewn up! Ahem, it's in the bag!

 Super giveaway gift with memberships bought before Christmas and an ideal gift idea for bat fans and conservationists who have everything: -Why not Adopt-a-bat! 

If you fancy doing something a bit special for some of Britain’s most at-risk mammals this Christmas, how about going a bit batty?
After all, aside from Santa’s Reindeer, bats are the only flying mammals in the world! At the Bat Conservation Trust, we think we have Christmas all sewn up this year. 
Buy an individual membership for yourself or a friend befo the big day,25th December, and not only do you get to help us secure the future for bats but you also get a special free gift of a fabulous cotton bag emblazoned with our logo. And that’s in addition to the usual membership pack, with postcards, a car sticker, fabulous bat pin-badge and information about our projects and thrice annual Bat News magazine. You will also get discounts to courses and conferences. Standard individual membership is £2.50 a month or  £30 per annum, paid annually or as a one off and discounts are available. Our fab batty bag also comes with family memberships bought at this time.
For the Little-uns we have Young  Batworkers’ Club membership to the Bat Conservation Trust for just £12 a year for each child.  Not only will they get endless enjoyment learning all about bats, but those vital funds will help conserve bats so their children in turn can be Young Bat Workers’ Club members.  Membership includes a subscription to the Young Batworker magazine, a special badge, a bat calendar and lots of batty things like stickers and postcards and fact sheets.  It’ll be like all their Christmases have come at once!
If you’re already a member and so are your friends and family, or if you simply know someone who fancies their own pipistrelle bat buddy, why not Adopt-a-bat. You will get your own fluffy bat toy, certificate of adoption (which you can download and print yourself if it’s all a bit last minute!) and welcome letter. You’ll also get an ‘I love bats’ magnet and  a colourful newsletter and poster sent out twice a year to keep you updated! For just £3.00 a month! Best of all you get to know you are helping secure the future for these winged wonders of the night! To adopt-a-bat head to
 You can sign up online for individual, family or Batworkers’ club membership  at
You can also join, buy memberships for others or adopt a bat over the phone and you can organise to have it sent directly to them and put in gift messages etc. The all important number is 0845 1300 228!
Don’t forget we have a fabulous selection of free Christmas e-cards on our website to spread the joy and save paper this year! 
Hope you all have a very batty Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Halloween Fundraising for BCT is spooktacularly easy!

Lisbeth and colleagues celebrating Halloween

BCT member, senior ecologist and returning Halloween fundraiser - Lisbeth Nash, tells us how and why she chooses to have fun and raise much needed funds for the Bat Conservation Trust at Halloween.
Fundraising for the Bat Conservation Trust is great fun and super easy.  For the last two years here at my office at AECOM Cardiff,  I have hijacked Halloween to promote bats, their conservation and to raise money for BCT. Whilst, having fun with my colleagues.
Check out these Halloween 'treats'
Since 2011 we have held a Halloween cake sale and spooky bat quiz. Cakes are kindly donated by the office's 'Mary Berry's and Jamie Oliver's' and all we ask is that people donate a couple of shiny  doubloons, for a slice of cake, trick or treat sweets and entry to a batty quiz.
Two weeks before the big day I put up some of the BCT template fundraising posters - these are available to download free from the BCT Halloween pages. On the day I then adorn the office with Halloween decorations, BCT logos and bat fact posters .
When I first started fundraising for bats most people in our office hadn't  heard of BCT. But this year, without prompt, I have been ask to run the event again - it seems to be a firm "October" favourite. The event has even spread across the River Severn to our Bristol office!
Lisbeth uses Halloween to raising funds for BCT alongside dispelling bat myths
By sneaking a few bat facts and myth busters into the Halloween quiz hopefully the positive message for bat conservation is getting out there. It's great to see our engineers and consultants, some usually not enamoured with bats, get really concerned and competitive over whether there are 18 or 17 resident species of bat in the UK, if the bumblebee bat really is the smallest bat in the world or just a hoax name and if they can name three UK bat species - Battius Battus does not count! 
This Halloween why not see if you can dosomething similar or even more bat- tastic for bat conservation at  your office!

Lisbeth Nash
Senior Ecologist AECOM

Why not go batty for bats this Halloween and do some fundraising of your own - Simply visit or email for information and advice.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

#natbatconf a first-timers blog on the National Bat Conference

#natbatconf...2013 a first timer's visit...
Abi McLoughlin, Press and Communications Officer at Bat Conservation Trust gives us a behind the scenes view of her first Bat Conference!

It was with excitement and enthusiasm I pulled on my purple sweatshirt and proudly pinned into place my name badge for the start of my first National Bat Conference in Warwick - only slightly mindful of the date, Friday 13th. And I'm glad I'm not superstitious as the weekend was wonderful... 

Friday 13th saw delegates and Bat Conservation Trust members flock to the bar courtesy of a free drink reception from the sponsors, WildlifeAcoustics. This blogger can categorically report only the weather and not the spirits of the bat enthusiasts was damp - which meant some nice consolation for the bad luck suffered by the bat walkers. 

Then came the more serious business of the annual Bat Worker Forum - where bat volunteers were able to discuss a variety of issues - from roost visit forms and the complications there with to the issue of Defra's desire to 'reduce and simplify' wildlife guidance which has led to a consultation on a document that seems to many to have its facts wrong when it comes to bats. Everyone was urged to have their sayon Defra's conultations  before the 27th Sept deadline. The passion and commitment  of the bat workers to bats was inspiring and encouraging to see and the meeting served to list the on-going projects and some very useful updates.

Then it was back to the bar - just to take photos you understand - before hobbling off to bed - a leg injury getting a good bit of strengthening work as I was to hobble back and forth across campus with varying degrees of 'on-time ness' over the weekend. 

Anne Youngman with her amazing designs

Saturday 14th was an early start to get the BCT stall, registration was in full flow before the talks started at 9 am. The wonderful Scotland Officer Anne Youngman added to our stall with some fabulous handcrafted glow in the dark bat badges which proved to be as in demand as Kelly Gunnell and Carol Williams' new book Designing forBiodiversity... both sold-out with folks wanting more - which is good in showbiz but slightly frustrating on the BCT stall! At least the book is available at the  ribabookshops website!

Julia Hanmer addressing confernece

After a few years out of academia, it felt great to enter a lecture hall again. And the talks didn't disappoint (and were much more exciting than many a law lecture). CEO of the bat Conservation Trust Julia Hanmer kicking things off with a look at issues facing bat and reflecting the year's work from BCT. The loudest hiss and boo from delegates was reserved for the unpopular Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, for his position on wildlife.

After Julia, Investigations Officer Pete Charleston, stepped up. He outlined the on-going issues with woeful sentencing and provided advice on what is needed to successfully tackle bat crime. Pete is currently investigating a shocking case in Bridlington that saw a conviction for destroying 6 roosts receiving a paltry £35 per roost fine. This is something Bat Conservation Trust  is working to change. 

A host of fantastic talks followed - all prompting great discussion, tweeting and retweeting under #natbatconf. Then came the workshops and what a treat they were - looking at all aspects of bat behaviour, bat handling, buildings, bats and the law to name but a few. Pat Waring's collection of films was wonderful to watch, shining an infrared light on some oft-missed bat behaviours. 

There was a great exhibition hall with a host of batty literature, bat monitoring and bat sound kits, amazing camera trap technologies and some rather fab other bits and bobs... after some more stints on the BCT stall it was back to the talks. 

We heard the latest from Stacey Waring (shown here with Heather McFarlane of BCT) as she is going loopy, or at least counting loops in fabric analysing the currently available breathable roofing membranes - it's very important work looking at how bats can become tangled and will have implications for industry and conservation.
We'd also heard from Lisa Worledge and Helen Miller on the latest on the very nearly unpronounceable and, in the US, deadly fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans - and what its presence in the UK may mean for Britain's bats. 
The signs suggest the presence of the fungus in the UK is good news for our bats, who may be immune to White Nose Sydrome.  So after a collective sigh of relief it was time to get ready for a bit of dinner, a rather tricky quiz and a lot of ceilidh chaos. Our table worked wonders on the anagrams and did pretty well overall, but not quite as well as you'd hope having set many of the questions!

Top tip - if you have twinkle toes
If anyone gets the opportunity to meet one of the BCT helpline managers, Pete in a similar situation I should suggest you ask him for a twirl - quite aside from the regulation ceilidh dancing, Pete is a former professional ballet dancer and after a few glasses impressed the team massively with an airborne double turn! It's arguably even more impressive though, when you get him talking about hand rearing Australian flying foxes!

Sunday 15th dawned bright and early and it was up and back to the talks - more great talking points and a lot of twittering as we learned that Madagascan Flying foxes are indeed great seed dispersers and that seeds that have been processed (ahem, 'pooped') by the bats germinate better than those which have simply dropped - one reason posited for this is the fact the bats spit out those seeds inhabited by parasites.   

We also heard about the exciting survey work undertaken in the Isle of Wight where Bechstein's bats and barbastelles were identified.  Ian Davidson-Watts and his team even found what's believed to be the largest barbastelles roost in the UK - with a whopping 115 bats living in one tree. From the Isle of Wight it was off to Somerset for a very engaging and entertaining talk about the Big Bat Surveys undertaken by the Somerset Bat Group on the Mendip and the Blackdown hills. 

We also heard about Bat Conservation Trust's Bats, Churches and Communities pilot from the lovely Laura Bambini. Next, Northumberland Bat Group explained  how bats are using islands off the coast of Northumberland - which was surprising and delightful - who knew they flew over the ocean to visit Lindesfarne, Inner Farn and Coquet? It has worrying implications though - as a whole trench of sea between the mainland and the islands is looking a likely spot for wind turbines, how will this affect bats? I'm particularly keen to hear from anyone else who's looking out to see to count bats, know there are some folk in Kent and Hampshire undertaking similar work.

The citizen science project in Norfolk, where local people monitor bats in their area using acoustic monitoring kit borrowed from the libary, plots bats using Google maps.   Over 400 people are involved so it's not only a fantastic project to monitor bats on a bigger scale than is usually possible, but it is also working wonders for getting bats noticed and recognised as the wonderful creatures they are.  

Wildlife Acoustic's talk at Conference

There a couple of very technical talks which as a non-science graduate I found fascinating, and in places, a little tough to keep up! I'm not big on algorithms but working on it! A talk on computer monitoring of wing beat frequency from University of Lincoln and Lincolnshire Bat Group, which, when worked up and moved into the field, may be a new and exciting way to identify species. The last talk of the day was from Wildlife Acoustics, outlining their new classification technique which will be in the Kaleidoscope Pro Bat Auto ID software. A lot of maths has gone into this - and it was great to hear about it! 

Gail Armstrong's excellent bat handling workshop was a wonder to watch!

I must confess to getting absolutely overexcited taking pictures in the bat handling workshop run by Gail Armstrong - I do tend to emit extremely high squeaks myself  when in close proximity to bats - which I hope they appreciate!

After lunch there was a touching talk remembering Andrew Watson presented by Tony Hutson and it was awards time. I felt a bit bad dragging both our amazing winners: Maggie Brown (pictured above right with Julia Hanmer), recipient of the Pete Guest Award and Charlotte Walters (pictured above, left) who won the Vincent Weir Scientific Award away from their coffee break to pose for pictures - but as you can see it was worth it! 

The most amusing moment of the afternoon came during the auction and raffle - which was a chance to raise much-needed funds for the Investigations Project. Quite a turn up for the books when CEO Julia Hanmer's ticket was drawn out of the bag! 

Kieron giving a rattle for the raffle!

A last minute rush on our sales stall - the bat poo identification charts were the best sellers of the weekend, after we'd sold out of Annie’s amazing glow in the dark bats and the Designing for Biodiversity books... then it was time to pack up and hobble for the train. Home to London, exhausted and happy to dream of bats and a newly lengthened - to-do list - having learned so much, there are so many stories to get out there. It's going to be a busy year!

Hope to see you all at the next conference, 7th September 2014, University of Warwick, I’ll be the one in the purple sweatshirt!  

Blogger Abi McLoughlin is the new Bat Conservation Trust Press and Communications Officer. She joined the team in June 2013 after 12 years at the BBC as a factual film maker/ producer/director. She is always keen to hear anyone's stories, and can help craft stories, offer help on press releases and media training. Do get in touch 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Some highlights from the Scottish Bat Project this Spring and early Summer

1st April until 30th June 2013 ...Spring Highlights
My last blog was written in March as the snow was gently falling. Since then it’s been; freezing freezing, freezing , warm, back to freezing , warm and then in the last couple of week ABSOLUTELY SCORCHING!!! (I suppose on average that might be considered just right).I don’t know how our poor bats have coped with the extremes, I await the National Bat Monitoring programme results with interest.
So what have I been up to since the first of April?  The answer …Loads of batty things; here are some highlights…. .

Visits to Bat groups
I visited Fife and Kinross bat group for their AGM.  It’s a fantastically sociable night, members all bring their special “signature” dish and after the bat group business is sorted everyone tucks into a veritable feast of wonderful food. (Its one of the highlights of my social calendar!)
Another great treat is the knitting!! Yes I said knitting , some of the group are part of a project called Fife’s knitted nature and are busily knitting all the biodiversity species in Fife (naturally this includes bats) .  The results are charming and so inspiring they make you want to pick up your pins.

Fife and Kinross Bat group – bat skills, knitters and chefs, their talents are limitless.

Talks, training and events
May was a busy month for delivering talks and training sessions, it was also mostly freezing cold with few bats about.

Training for Vet students
I owe a HUGE THANKYOU to volunteer bat carers; Michelle Appleby and Carol Ann Terry who were absolute stars during a training day introducing vet students to bat care. They brought captive bats with them and answered non-stop questions.   Enormous thanks are also due to Laura Dunne and Emma Keeble my contacts at the Dick Vet School, without their help the course would not have gone ahead.  This was a new venture for BCT and was very well received. Thanks to Jess Barker too from BCT.

Hillcrest Housing Association in Dundee have an active interest in encouraging wildlife and asked for particular advice on helping bats.  I gave a short talk, a quick lesson on using detectors and some top tips on identifying local bats.  Now they are busily bat watching at properties they own.  They will present their wildlife records (including bats) at a special celebratory event in October. (In the meanwhile I hope bat activity and the weather warms up)
Other training events included evenings with;
·         Scottish Wildlife Trust apprentice ecologists ( who will go on to survey for Leisler’s bats on Arran later in the year),
·         Paisley University Zoological society, (a freezing cold night, we got about 3 bats!)
·         students at Elmwood college , (a fantastic night watching Daubenton’s and pipistrelle bats),
·         A bat care training night with North East Scotland Bat Group.
·         A bat detector workshop in Kinlochewe.
The outdoor session at Kinlochewe was very memorable. A huge full moon rose over the mountains.  We watched Daubenton’s and pipistrelle bats flying up and down the river and then…… we heard something quite different, something much lower and slower than the usual pipistrelle calls.  AAARGH, I am pretty sure it was a Nathusius pipistrelle, but it flew past and did not return so there was no opportunity to make a recording of the call.  Anyone heading for Kinlochewe please keep your ears open and recording device switched on!

Bird fair 13/14th May Hopetoun
A wild, wet and windy weekend was survived at the Scottish Birdfair. Our tent was set up on Friday only to have its roof blown off during the night.  I’m very grateful to the kind security guard who not only rescued the roof but used it to protect all our boxes of leaflets and displays.  Over the weekend six volunteers heroically helped to promote bat conservation not only by chatting to the public but also by holding on to the tent and displays when the wind blew. ( These heoes are ; Sarah Jupp,Natalie Todman, James Morrison, Alastair Hood, Eilidh McNab and Danny )

BCT tries a new recruitment technique -  Become a member – or we send the kids round!

Wales Bat conference – I had a brilliantly batty time at the Wales bat conference.  A real treat for me was the evening field work where I enjoyed listening to the funky sounds of noctule calls and a bonus sighting of otters.  The conference was a great opportunity for updating my bat knowledge and practical skills, meeting up with other batty people and to get ideas for the Scottish Confererence.

Participants at the Wales Bat conference - Great excitement when serotine calls are confirmed

A challenge not to be sniffed at…
And finally I had a rather unusual request – could I make a model cowpat and create a display that linked cowpats, insects and bats?
No bother!  I immediately set too creating a wildflower meadow (grass and wildflowers that were weeded from my flowerbeds were put into seed tray)
A cowpat wascreated;  flour, salt, water , grass clippings and food colour where mixed to a sloppy dough and dropped onto a backing tray, then left for 3 weeks in the shed to partially dry out.
My collection of plastic minbeasts was delved from the toy box
A variety of menu cards were written and voila…. “Pat and Flora’s Café” was created    
A paper tablecloth was hastily drawn on  with chunky wax crayons, to suggest wildflowers and grasses. The seed trays were put on this, the cowpat on top and minbeasts hidden in the “meadow”, bat shapes were hung above to complete the food chain.

Children made cow pat and bat hats from a band of card (the cow pat was optional but most children quite enjoyed drawing a big sloppy pat along the bottom of their hat) A fringe snipped along the top of the hat suggested grass and stickers (with flowers and minbeasts) were added to increase the biodiversity and make the hats look pretty.

Westquarter event –( meet the faeces).  Children in cowpat hats find mini-beasts (bat food)  at Pat and Flora’s Café.

Other little snippets
Thanks Dumfries and Galloway bat group for hospitality after the AGM
Thanks Fife and Kinross bat group for taking species Champion Jayne Baxter on a day’s checking bat boxes

It was slightly depressing the week before mid-summer to go on a bat walk and see only 2 bats (It was chilly!) 
How things  changed by July! More updates soon ...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Bat Chat – Some highlights from the Scottish Bat Project from 1st January until 28th March 2013


Warm greetings, though it’s still pretty chilly here in Dunblane . Snow is falling as I write this.  I’m still waiting to see my first bats of the season, a sign that spring is on its way.  Until it comes I’m living off my fat, eating porridge and dressed in many layers of thermals. There is a temptation to hibernate – except I’d choose a cosy warm duvet and not a cold humid ice house as my site!
So what have I been up since the start of January? 

Here are a few of the highlights; 

Species Champions 

Whoopee doo!!  A lonely hearts type message sent out on Valentine’s day was a great success in encouraging  MSPs ( Members of Scottish Parliament) to become species champions for bats.  We have six champions. 

They are….(imagine a fanfare trumpeting ):

1.       Bill Kidd  -  champion for the common pipistrelle ( and yes I DO have to stop myself saying Billy the Kid champion for the common man)
2.       Jayne Baxter – champion for the ( gorgeous) Brown longeared bat
3.       Jim Hume – champion for the ( high flying) Noctule
4.       Murdo Fraser – champion for the (eloquent) Natterer’s
5.       Willie Rennie – champion for the ( small dark and handsome) Nathusius pipistrelle
6.       Graeme Pearson – champion for the (mysterious) Leisler’s bat.
(Now imagine a HUGE cheer) 
Bill Kidd and assistants

I visited Bill and Jayne at Holyrood to answer all their batty queries and suggest ways we might work together in future to promote bat conservation . I’ll be visiting the remaining champions soon, armed with bat detectors, bat leaflets and homemade bat shaped biscuits .

Visits to bat groups  
Flying visits were made to; Lothian’s bat group, Clyde bat group and Central Scotland Bat group, joining them for bat group meetings.   A planned visit to Dumfries and Galloway bat group was scuppered by an accident which blocked the motorway for so long I only had time to turn around and go back home ( sorry Dumfries and Galloway – see you on 16th April) .

Batty /Unusual people!   
bat volunteers (and Dogs)
I was contacted by Jana Fleishart of Volunteer Development Scotland to help with her research into volunteers who do unusual and exciting things. She includes people who do: National Bat Monitoring Programme surveys, Mountain Rescue and those who ride motorbikes and deliver (no not pizzas) but vital organs to hospitals. (Wow, I never realised NBMP volunteers were in quite such exciting leagues.)  Jana joined a team from Central Scotland bat group for a hibernation survey at Doune Castle before interviewing and filming volunteers.  Her case studies will appear on the Volunteer Development 
                                                                                     Scotland website this summer.

New resources for groups to borrow
New Scottish banners
Has your group got events planned this summer?   I have two lovely new banners that can be borrowed.
The “Amazing Bats” banner  shows  what bats do throughout the year and has a bat fact for each UK species, the second “Help save Scottish Bats” is a plea to join Bat  Conservation Trust (because  you know it makes sense ) .

The displays come in their own carrying case and are very easy to set up, once unrolled they measure just over 2m high by 1m wide.  Do email me if you’d like to borrow these, there is no charge for their use but donations to BCT are always appreciated. 

So looking forward to the next three months …
Its going to be none stop, with lots of public events such as; Birdfayre, Bioblitz’s, a wildlife festival at Falkirk and a Taste of Ayrshire at Culzean. I’ll be delivering bat care training to vet students  in Edinburgh and  carers in North east Scotland plus bat detector training in the wilds of Wester Ross.  I’ll be braving the bustle and bright lights of the city and joining colleagues in London for 3 days to keep up to date with new projects and staff changes .
So enough about me, what about you dear reader?  (I’m optimistically assuming someone   does read this )
What might you be getting up to in the next three months???  
I’ve a few suggestions;

  •   When you do see your first bat/s of the season please add these to the BIG BAT MAP and if you see bats three nights in a row – throw a party , Spring is on the way  
The next instalment of this batty blog will be produced  around  the start of July  ( if the Lord spares me )

Until then Pip pip over and out

Anne Youngman
Scottish officer, BCT