Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Teeing off for bats
The team hard at work. All images (c) Anne Youngman.
On Saturday 25th July, 2009, a band of 12 batty disciples (and two trainee bat sniffer dogs) met to survey Craigie Hill Golf Course in Scotland for the Perth City Bats Project, writes Anne Youngman, Scottish Bat Officer.
The weather was perfect; warm and dry and a moderate to slight breeze prevented overheating on the uphill climb. So armed with bat detectors, recording forms, luminescent jackets and torches - and fortified by (mini) Mars Bars we strode purposefully up the steep slopes of Craigie Hill.
The band split into three teams, (imaginatively named Teams One, Two and Three). Each team surveyed a different strip of the golf course. Teams started at the southern boundary and walked over a small hill and down the steeper slopes of the golf course to its northern boundary.
Team One had something to smile about straight away, their first survey spot appeared to be a blessed place with bat activity.
Team Two however got slightly lost on the way up hill. But fear not, they were guided back to their correct starting point by the waving of luminescent jackets and use of the world’s loudest dog whistle.
Team Three clearly had the added advantage with Paddy, the dog with X-ray eyes, helping them to look out for bats.
Sunset was at 9:37pm. The survey started at 10:00pm and the first bat spotted (by Team Two) was promptly after at 9:55pm.
Bat detectors at the ready, surveyors scoured the horizon for bats. The views over Perth were fantastic - almost a complete 360 degree panorama and while we were all taking in the smell of honeysuckle and enjoying watching and listening to the bats, Paddy the dog however, was smelling fox scent – well he was a trainee after all!
The survey finished at around 10:40pm with all three survey teams getting to see and hear bats. I’m happy to report no surveyors were lost in undergrowth or otherwise fell by the wayside and confess that in our newly acquired Bat-nerdiness, we counted the number of bats we saw even though this was not needed for the survey!
Team One got mostly 55khz pipistrelles, some 45’s and a mystery silent bat (which we decide to count as a possible brown long-eared) Teams Two and Three got mostly 45 kHz pipistrelles and one 55kHz pipistrelle. Other wildlife bonuses spotted were a fox and a toad.
Perth City Bats Project background
Grant aided by Awards for All and the SITA Trust, the Perth City Bat Project is the brainchild of Niall Lobley from Perth and Kinross Council Ranger service and Anne Youngman, Scottish Bat Officer of Bat Conservation Trust.
The aims of the project include:
•Raising awareness of bats in Perth
•Enabling volunteers to get involved in bat surveys
•Producing a map of “bat hotspots” within the city along with recommendations for maintaining and enhancing the city’s bat habitat.
A team of more than 40 volunteers have been given training and loaned bat detectors and recording equipment to carry out their surveys in the city in a patchwork of 1km squares. The general public is also able to add to the survey by sending their records of bat sightings to a Bat Map page on the Perth and Kinross Council website. Perth Bat Group will also be carrying out technical surveys to map bats in proximity to roads.