Monday, 30 March 2015

Bat chat from Scotland

Hello, its Anne Youngman here, Scottish Officer for Bat Conservation Trust.  Here I am at the end of one financial year, finishing off reports for funders and looking back over the last year. My job is very varied (although too much time is spent sitting down in front of a computerL) and I’m always slightly surprised to see just how much has been done.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to say some thank yous and share a few of the highlights of the last year.

The first thank yous go to volunteers who helped on the BCT stall at the Scottish Bird Fair in May 2014.  Their efforts included; putting up the tent ( and taking it down) answering endless questions from the public and helping hundreds of small excited children make bat badges and bobbing bat hats. 

Bat man and Superman with bobbing bat hats  

My next HUGE thank you goes to the bat carers;  Carol Ann Terry , Tracey Joliffe and Heidi Cooper Berry (carer and vet)  who gave their time and considerable expertise to deliver training to (15) vet students at the Royal Dick Veterinary School, Edinburgh.  Feedback from the day was excellent; it’s great to think we will have more vets in future with knowledge of bat care.

Bat Identification – bat care training for vet students  

I DO get out of doors some days and nights and have had great fun delivering training to various bat groups and wildlife interest groups.

After a bat identification training night with Inverness bat group

A misty night with Sustrans volunteers on a Waterways survey training night

Bat Identification  – with RSPB volunteers ( a nice change from birds!)

Hibernaculum survey training CSBG

On the subject of training I owe more HUGE thanks to everyone who lead a workshop and or delivered a talk at the 2014 spring into Action day for bat workers last May.  We had 75 attendees and a choice of 14 different workshop topics.  The aim of the day was to deliver practical training to bat workers at the start of the bat season  ( and get them inspired and ready to go…)

Endoscope training  at the  spring into action day.

We have 6 Members of Scottish Parliament who are bat Champions.  They are ;
·         Jayne Baxter (brown longeared bat),
·         Bill Kidd (common pipistrelle)
·         Willie Rennie (Nathusius pipistrelle)
·         Graeme Pearson (Leisler’s bat)
·         Jim Hume (noctule)
·         Murdo Mackenzie (Natterer’s bat) 
Local bat groups and I have been keeping the MSP bat Species Champions busy.
Jayne had a great day checking bat boxes with Fife and Kinross Bat group (Thank you Fife and Kinross), Graeme Pearson met John Haddow for a bat walk at Holyrood and an opportunity to have all his questions about the Leisler’s bat answered by an expert and four out of the six Champions featured in a short film (Produced by Scottish Environment link) explaining why climate change was bad for bats.

Central Scotland Bat group celebrated its 30th Birthday (with special bat beer at the Bridge of Allan brewery)

Central Scotland Bat group - Celebrating 30 years of batting and still going strong

The Scottish bat workers conference in November attracted over 100 attendees for a day of talks, workshops and bat chat 

Delegates at the Scottish Bat workers Conference 2014

A boat trip on the canal near Falkirk in October to deliver a bat talk and training with bat detectors to volunteers with the Seagull Trust identified 3 species of bats. That was despite the rather chilly weather and late timing.

Sailing into the sunset with Seagull trust volunteers on the Falkirk canal

A training talk and workshops were delivered to green keepers / golf course managers on how to safeguard and enhance bat roosts and habitat at the SNH Sharing Best practise event “In the Rough”.  This was part of a full days training on enhancing biodiversity on golf courses and it was great to make the link between making places attractive for wildlife and making them healthy and attractive places for people too.

That’s just a few examples of some of the positives through the year; I should mention just two rather disappointing parts of the job.

An application for a Bat detector library loan scheme was unsuccessful in getting funding ( always disappointing as quite a lot of time and effort goes into the application ) However I think it’s such a good idea I’ll keep the application and can hopefully re-jig it and try another funder in future.

In December I sat in on a court hearing where a property manager for CKD Galbraith had instructed workman to block up access to a bat roost.  His defence was that he simply did not know bats were protected.  I don’t think the sheriff was entirely convinced, he pointed out that the next door neighbour (“an ordinary member of the public”) knew as she had contacted the police!  He was fined only £240.  What was good about attending was that I could see that the impact statement provided to the Procurator Fiscal by BCT and the information from a local bat expert where very useful.

That’s just a very brief look at some of the events last year. In the future my main focus will be on encouraging more survey for bats; this will range from encouraging the public to add their bat sightings to the Big Bat Map to delivering training to wildlife groups to encourage more National bat Monitoring Programme surveys.  So hopefully next year holds a nice balance between being out of doors (hurrah) and being in front of a computer.