Thursday 26 February 2009

Yay -- fans!

It's really great to see people becoming 'fans' of our Facebook page. After a few days of trundling along with just two fans (that would be Neil and Steve, the enthusiastic duo comprising BCT's communications and membership team), we're now at 76 fans -- and counting! If you're a fan, not only are you a star, you're also helping to spread the word. And if you're not a fan yet, could you become one, pretty please? Our mission is to build a happy thriving community of bat-friendly people.


PS. You can find our Facebook page here:

On bat crime and budgets

A cluster of brown long-eared bats in a roof void
(image: Hugh Clark)

Yesterday I attended the annual Partnership Against Wildlife Crime conference, writes BCT Chief Executive Amy Coyte.

BCT is delighted that bats remain a priority for the police in terms of wildlife crime – this is much needed given the level of crime reported by our Investigations Project and thanks to the excellent partnership work between the police, bat workers, government agencies and our investigations officer.

The minister's address (Huw Iranca-Davies) was heartening in that he is clearly committed to tackling the high level of crime against our wildlife. However this commitment is yet to be seen in terms of the action which might follow it. RSPB highlighted the fact that the previous Scottish Environment minister’s interest in this area has enabled Scotland to put together a well-backed strategy which is currently being implemented and in which we all have high hopes. The question is, can such energy be galvanised in England and Wales? The minister’s reply was once again hopeful.

It was great to see so many Wildlife Crime Officers present at the conference but they expressed their concern about the low priority given to wildlife crime by the police force. The winner of the WWF Wildlife Enforcer Officer Award clearly felt that he would not be able to keep his interest in wildlife crime if he was to be promoted within the force. This does not bode well for the excellent work carried out throughout the country by these police officers.

I came away from the conference with the question -- how can enforcement of our wildlife legislation act as a deterrent when the fines given out in sentencing are so small? Developers continue to ignore the law and their action results in the direct persecution of bats. Currently fines are less then the costs of an ecological consultant and mitigation measures.

BCT will continue to prioritise raising awareness and training to prevent crimes occurring in the first place, although it is clear we could all do more to address the cases that continue to arise. And as always the great challenge is capacity. I look forward to talking to the BCT team and to batworkers throughout the UK to establish where our energies our best placed in the field of wildlife crime. What can we do best with the extremely limited resources we have available to us?

On that note, today I am concentrating on our budgets for the financial year ahead!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Looking for widgets

Know anyone who'd be able to help us build a batty Facebook widget to spread the word about BCT? Please drop us a line!
We're hoping such expertise won't be as hard to find as Britain's most elusive bat, the Bechstein's (although we're working on that).

(Bechstein's bats: John Altringham)

Monday 23 February 2009

A bat walk, eh. What's that like?

We often get asked this question here at BCT. Well, we reply, a bat walk is a chance to see and hear bats in their natural habitat -- flitting through the trees, skimming over the water -- usually at night. It's really rather magical, and a fantastic way to explore your local environment.

Philip Briggs, of our National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) Team, explains:

The essentials for a bat walk are a good bat foraging habitat (such as a park, woodland or lake) that is accessible for people to walk around at night, and some bat detectors to hand around that enable the bats’ ultrasonic calls to be heard.

Normally bat walks are preceded by a talk on bats in general and the species that are likely to be seen or heard at the site. This may take place outdoors at the start point of the walk, or can involve an illustrated talk inside a nearby venue. How much other wildlife gets pointed out depends on the wider knowledge of the bat walk leaders, but few people can resist stopping to listen to the calls of owls or watch foxes, badgers and even toads that are spotted roaming around at night.

This is what you might hear on your bat detector -- a pipistrelle, Britain's most common bat. Or, if you're really lucky, a greater horsehoe.

If you'd like to find out more about bat walks in your area, amble over to our website or email Bat Group Officer Laura Dunne.

(Scottish sunset: Anney Youngman)

Friday 20 February 2009

Hello and welcome!

Hello and welcome to BCT's new blog! Okay, so there's not much going on right now -- our batty blogs are still in hibernation, as it were -- but that's all set to change as we head into spring. Stay tuned for some exciting blog-ness from the bat world!

PS. In the meantime, why not send a batty e-card from our website? You can check us out on Facebook and twitter too.

(Ultrasonic brown long-eared: Steve Parker)