Thursday, 5 March 2009

While bats sleep our NBMP team are hard at work

Hard to spot: a sleepy looking Daubenton's bat peers out from a crevice
(image: John Altringham)

Right now it's certainly a quiet time for bats, writes Sarah Ford of BCT's National Bat Monitoring Team. They’re currently in hibernation and licensed surveyors have been busy visiting hibernation sites over the last couple of months.

The surveyors' results are starting to come in so we’ll soon have an idea of how many bats and which species have been spotted. The most commonly encountered species in hibernation sites are Natterer’s bats, Daubenton’s bats, lesser horseshoe bats and brown long-eared bats. Rare species found include barbastelles, Bechstein’s bats and the UK’s one and only greater mouse-eared bat!

The UK’s most common species, the pipistrelles, are conspicuous by their virtual absence, as they tend to roost in nooks and crannies in trees and buildings rather than open structures that surveyors are able to explore. It’s not always an easy task finding the bats as they tend to hide away in tiny gaps and crevices, making them very difficult to spot!

Unfortunately, this quiet period for bats doesn’t quite translate into quiet time for the NBMP team! We’ve been using this time to compile our survey results from 2008 in order to produce bat trends for the UK. It’s also the build up to the busy summer survey season so we’re in the process of speaking to volunteers and confirming which surveys they’re interested in taking part in. We’ll soon be preparing the survey packs, and making sure everything is in place for the summer.

The only thing we can’t prepare for is the weather, so fingers crossed that it’s sunny and dry this year!

If you’re interested in taking part in an NBMP survey this summer please contact me or visit our website for more information. You can also see survey and species maps for our 2007 and 2008 results, all thanks to our many volunteers.

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