Wednesday 10 April 2013

Bat Chat – Some highlights from the Scottish Bat Project from 1st January until 28th March 2013


Warm greetings, though it’s still pretty chilly here in Dunblane . Snow is falling as I write this.  I’m still waiting to see my first bats of the season, a sign that spring is on its way.  Until it comes I’m living off my fat, eating porridge and dressed in many layers of thermals. There is a temptation to hibernate – except I’d choose a cosy warm duvet and not a cold humid ice house as my site!
So what have I been up since the start of January? 

Here are a few of the highlights; 

Species Champions 

Whoopee doo!!  A lonely hearts type message sent out on Valentine’s day was a great success in encouraging  MSPs ( Members of Scottish Parliament) to become species champions for bats.  We have six champions. 

They are….(imagine a fanfare trumpeting ):

1.       Bill Kidd  -  champion for the common pipistrelle ( and yes I DO have to stop myself saying Billy the Kid champion for the common man)
2.       Jayne Baxter – champion for the ( gorgeous) Brown longeared bat
3.       Jim Hume – champion for the ( high flying) Noctule
4.       Murdo Fraser – champion for the (eloquent) Natterer’s
5.       Willie Rennie – champion for the ( small dark and handsome) Nathusius pipistrelle
6.       Graeme Pearson – champion for the (mysterious) Leisler’s bat.
(Now imagine a HUGE cheer) 
Bill Kidd and assistants

I visited Bill and Jayne at Holyrood to answer all their batty queries and suggest ways we might work together in future to promote bat conservation . I’ll be visiting the remaining champions soon, armed with bat detectors, bat leaflets and homemade bat shaped biscuits .

Visits to bat groups  
Flying visits were made to; Lothian’s bat group, Clyde bat group and Central Scotland Bat group, joining them for bat group meetings.   A planned visit to Dumfries and Galloway bat group was scuppered by an accident which blocked the motorway for so long I only had time to turn around and go back home ( sorry Dumfries and Galloway – see you on 16th April) .

Batty /Unusual people!   
bat volunteers (and Dogs)
I was contacted by Jana Fleishart of Volunteer Development Scotland to help with her research into volunteers who do unusual and exciting things. She includes people who do: National Bat Monitoring Programme surveys, Mountain Rescue and those who ride motorbikes and deliver (no not pizzas) but vital organs to hospitals. (Wow, I never realised NBMP volunteers were in quite such exciting leagues.)  Jana joined a team from Central Scotland bat group for a hibernation survey at Doune Castle before interviewing and filming volunteers.  Her case studies will appear on the Volunteer Development 
                                                                                     Scotland website this summer.

New resources for groups to borrow
New Scottish banners
Has your group got events planned this summer?   I have two lovely new banners that can be borrowed.
The “Amazing Bats” banner  shows  what bats do throughout the year and has a bat fact for each UK species, the second “Help save Scottish Bats” is a plea to join Bat  Conservation Trust (because  you know it makes sense ) .

The displays come in their own carrying case and are very easy to set up, once unrolled they measure just over 2m high by 1m wide.  Do email me if you’d like to borrow these, there is no charge for their use but donations to BCT are always appreciated. 

So looking forward to the next three months …
Its going to be none stop, with lots of public events such as; Birdfayre, Bioblitz’s, a wildlife festival at Falkirk and a Taste of Ayrshire at Culzean. I’ll be delivering bat care training to vet students  in Edinburgh and  carers in North east Scotland plus bat detector training in the wilds of Wester Ross.  I’ll be braving the bustle and bright lights of the city and joining colleagues in London for 3 days to keep up to date with new projects and staff changes .
So enough about me, what about you dear reader?  (I’m optimistically assuming someone   does read this )
What might you be getting up to in the next three months???  
I’ve a few suggestions;

  •   When you do see your first bat/s of the season please add these to the BIG BAT MAP and if you see bats three nights in a row – throw a party , Spring is on the way  
The next instalment of this batty blog will be produced  around  the start of July  ( if the Lord spares me )

Until then Pip pip over and out

Anne Youngman
Scottish officer, BCT

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