|A roost feature on an Oak (c) Sonia Reveley|
As it is National Tree Week it seems appropriate to submit a blog about the Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Monitoring Project. As you are well aware, woodlands are very important to bats. They provide foraging opportunities and roosting sites all year round for these special flying mammals. The distribution of woodlands over the years has changed and many are now fragmented and scattered. Their importance is undeniable though as they provide a haven for wildlife and support a variety of flora and fauna.
|Noctule (c) Hugh Clark|
Trees to bats are like what houses are to us. Where we have a choice of a semi-detached, flat or a bungalow, trees will provide a range of different roost features from loose peeling bark, cracks, cavities and fissures to rot holes and woodpecker holes. And like our homes they provide bats with shelter, warmth and a place to sleep and bring their young up. A well-established woodland will contain many trees with these features, all with different conditions (humidity, temperature and light), which will give the bats the freedom to move to different roosts throughout the year depending on their needs.
|Transect surveying with volunteers |
(c) Jamie McDonald
“I have been kept busy with volunteering work on a number of nature reserves since moving to Norfolk ten years ago, or should I say indulging my interest in natural history! One of the reserves I work on, and perhaps my favourite, is the ancient woodland that is the Swanton Novers NNR.
These woods have been an important part of the Norfolk landscape for hundreds of years, initially for economic reasons and latterly for their tremendous wildlife value. I have helped here with many tasks, from coppicing and growing young hazel plants to carrying out wildlife surveys.
Hence one day I was asked if I would like to help out with surveying bat activity in the woods.
|Keith and Alex fixing a static detector to a tree |
(c) Sonia Reveley
It all started with walked transects through the woods, initially with an experienced bat worker, and moved on to analysing the results of the transects on my computer to identify the bat species. It moved on to positioning static detectors and analysing those results with even more software.
The next big step was to help with catching the bats using mist nets. With that came the chance to hold a bat in my hand and see just how tiny a Pipistrelle really is. Barbastelles were tagged with radio transmitters, which lead to tracking the tagged bats around the woods and wider countryside, and the more sedentary and less exhausting locating of roosts and emergence counts.
I am now confident in my ability to identify the different species and have gained enough information from other colleagues and background reading to confidently lead bat walks for the ‘general public’.
What do I enjoy about the work? Four things;
I love being out in the woods at night with the snuffling badgers, barking deer and roding woodcock.
It gives me a real buzz to think that I am helping to ensure the survival of this wonderful wooded place.
I feel I am making a real contribution to the knowledge about bats and how they use the woodland environment.
It has triggered a fascination with all aspects of the life of bats; flight, echolocation, hibernation and all the rest. “
Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Project Volunteer
Further information about the project and monthly updates about the project called Swanton News can be found at www.bats.org.uk/swanton.
If you would like more information about the project or would like to be involved and can spare a few hours helping with bat surveys, call analysis, walks, talks and community events, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator Sonia Reveley at SReveley@bats.org.uk or ring 07788 226528.