Friday, 23 November 2012

Helpling bats recover in the aftermath the wettest summer for 100 years

2012 has been a memorable year,  with massive celebrations and sporting events happening across the country however for conservationists it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons; with the wettest summer on record and the year Ash dieback struck Britain.   With the winter weather predicted to be just as unpredictable our wildlife is facing a truly challenging time.

In spring our Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) received calls about known bat roosts which had been present for years and years which were now left empty.  In the summer we received 50% more calls about grounded, injured and baby bats than ever before.  Sadly the same stories just kept on coming; bats found grounded on the floor exhausted and unable to fly due to lack of food and the worst calls of all, calls explaining how maternity roosts had formed but that the mothers could not find enough insects to supply their babies with the milk needed so they were forced to abandon them in order for their own survival. 

The weather is still not on our side heavy rain has meant that bats have had a constant uphill battle to eat enough insects and build up enough fat stores to survive the winter. Now when bats should be hibernating we have been getting reports of bats flying at night and even during the day. Some bat workers believe this is a desperate attempt by these bats to get in enough insects to survive the winter, but the pickings will be slim and with the recent cold,wet and windy may well left these bats more drained than when they set out.

How many will survive this winter? We don’t know, but more importantly will next year will be better for them? What we do know is that we can prepare and give bats a fighting chance by acting now so that when bats wake after the winter that there is the food, shelter and habitats that they need to survive.

Bats need a connected landscape with hedgerows, waterways and trees, so they can travel safely between their roosting and feeding sites.  Over the winter we’re working with partners to protect habitats and create wildlife rich meadows, forests, gardens and parks and build new sites to shelter bats.

We’re already making headway on this, maps of the landscape have been developed from a bat perspective allowing us to show planners and local authorities where the important bat sites are and we are giving advice to foresters and woodland owners on how to protect bat roosts from felling and how to create woodlands for wildlife. We’ve published a new guide Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity. We’re also continuing to lobby governments to ensure that the roads, railways and lighting that slice through the landscape do not act as barriers to bats, blocking bat flight lines, severing the hedges that link their habitats.  Most recently we have also been working with the Forestry Commission working on a plan of how to protect bats whilst halting the Ash dieback.

Julia our Chief Executive sums it up nicely

“We know there are huge challenges ahead, as creating landscapes for bats is ambitious, but we’re already making progress and if bats are to survive we have to create the spaces they so desperately need”

With this in mind we’re appealing for donations to help us support landscape scale conservation efforts helping to provide bats the food, water and shelter that they need to survive. 

The struggle to conserve our unique bats is greater now than ever before and with that in mind we are asking for your support. Please donate to our landscape appeal. Even a small amount really does help us make a difference.