Wednesday 23 November 2011

The Scottish Bat Workers Conference 2011: how was it for you?

Talks at the Scottish bat workers conference

The Scottish Bat workers conference was held at Stirling University on Saturday 12th November. Anne Youngman, who organised the conference, writes:

Phew – it’s done.

That was the biggest and (I feel) the best ever Scottish conference. J. So far. Around 140 batty people “flew” in. Most came from Scotland but a few intrepid explorers crossed the borders of England and Wales, bringing with them exciting tales of rare bats and adding a touch of the exotic.

Delegates enjoy the displays and bat chat

Mark Robinson (Arborteering Limited)

The conference was sponsored by Mark Robinson, Arborteering Limited. He’s not just an ordinary hero but a MMMM Mark Robinson super hero (that bit should be read in a deep sexy voice). Mark not ONLY sponsored the conference he ALSO ran a brilliant workshop. (HOORAY he’s not just oak- kay , he’s tree-mendous)

Stirling University is a great place for our conference. It’s THE leading place for bat research in Scotland, due to the “Kirsty Park” effect, attracting bat researchers. In addition the beautiful parkland setting offers ideal bat habitat.

The conference contained; talks, workshops, an update of bat news, displ ays AND sales tables (I treated myself to several batty Christmas presents....... because I’m worth it!)

Julia Hanmer gave an update on What’s new in BCT? The answer is LOADS, from new research to new website resources.

Northumberland bat group (Tina Wiffen and Graeme Smart) told us about their search for the elusive Nathusius pipistrelle. Many bat calls were recorded, many volunteers recruited, many miles trudged, many oops occasional beers were quaffed (purely in th e interests of science) but NO roosts were found. Where on earth are these bats roosting??? (All together – they’re behind you!!!) The search will go on.... watch this space in 2012 for the continued adventures of the Northumberland bat group (Haway the lads ... and the lasses).

A team with more luck were the “Looking forLeisler’s“ gang. In fact this lot were positively blessed with bats. (Jammy) John Haddow discovered the joys of..... an aerial walkway, the perfect place to put up mist nets. Bats, Ailsa, Betty and Craig were radio tagged and showed the humans seven tree roosts and favourite foraging areas. Stuart Spray’s filming of a tree roost proved a much more accurate way of “counting” bats out, rather than relying on eyesight alone.

Now Culzean can boast it has 8 of the 9 Scottish species –only the whiskered bat remains to be found. (It’ll be there somewhere and what a party we’ll have when it’s found!!)

During lunch time delegates were able to watch a film (by movie – mogul Stuart Spray) entitled “Looking for Leisler’s”. Sequels are promised.

Seven different workshop topics were on offer (plus the option NOT to attend a workshop but simply take a break to catch up with bat chat).

Workshops ranged from; Bat care to bat dropping analysis with sound analysis in between. Feedback from all the workshops was very good, the only “negative“ comment was that an hour and a quarter was not long enough, everyone wanted “more, more , more.....!” So next year workshop sessions will last an hour and a half.

Eyes down, looking in for bat dropping bingo: Number 2 - longeared pooh, Legs only 7 – Spider in heaven, Shiny things – beetle wings, Bat dropping soup- crumbly poop, Tiny little bits – ex-chironomids. Guano!

Despite technical problems with the University AV equipment and a shortage of handouts* the Using Your Ears workshop by Natalie Todman got rave reviews.* (Sorry everyone the shortage of hand outs was MY fault- grovelling apology from Anne Y)

The bat care workshop had the added attraction of real bats – something that delighted participants.

At the end of the day delegates were refreshed by Titley Scientific (who sponsored the afternoon tea break.) Cheers Titley.

Stuart Spray filmed events during the day – watch this space for a link to the results, or keep your ears open for announcements of BATFAS / Oscars in future.

It just remains for me to say thank you (to a huge long list of stars):

Stephen Brown – at Stirling University for helping organise the whole day – and the bat biscuits

John Wierwiorka- our “techie-angel”

Speakers – Julia Hanmer, Tina Wiffen, Graeme Smart, John Haddow, DR Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor ( newly doctored), and Kirsty Park

People who gave news updates- Ben Ross, Robert Raynor, Katy Freeman, Natalie Todman, Emilie Wadsworth, Andy Kerr, Tom Hastings, good looking young chap from Tayside (sorry I forgot your name)

Workshop leaders- Mark Robinson, Philip Briggs, Natalie Todman, Tom Hastings, Sue Swift, Tracey Joliffe and Danielle Linton.

Here’s a date for your diary 2012

Next year’s conference will be at the Scottish Natural Heritage Conference centre, (Battleby) near Perth, on Saturday 10th November (if the Lord spares us!!)

Can you help?

Anyone who would like to offer; talks, workshops, sponsorship or chocolate should contact

Anne Youngman, Scottish Officer, Bat Conservation Trust email:

(Or have you suggestions for talks and speakers you’d like to hear, this is your chance to nominate a friend/colleague/victim.

THANK YOU to our sponsors Arborteering Ltd.

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