Monday, 15 November 2010

Welsh Project is a Winner!

BCT’s Wales Bat Officer, Steve Lucas, talks about an award-winning BCT project in South Wales…

Amongst the range of projects that BCT undertakes in Wales to actively promote a greater awareness of bat conservation, one has gained particular recognition - the Urban Bat Survey Project.

The Urban Bat Survey Project aims to record and map bat activity in the urban environment by engaging volunteers new to bat conservation and providing them with the skills needed to take part in these and other survey projects, such as the National Bat Monitoring Programme. In other words – the Urban Bat Survey Project is a jewel in the crown of the Wales Bat Project.

Funded by Environment Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project started in 2009 under the Count Bat Project taking place in Swansea, Cardiff, Neath and Newport. In Neath, 22 dedicated volunteers took part surveying 11 one kilometre squares. Overall in the project 228 volunteers took part surveying 108 one kilometre squares. Due to the success of the project, this year it was extended to Clwyd in north Wales.

I decided to enter the Neath element of the Urban Bat Survey Project into the Neath Port Talbot Environment Awards under the Action for Wildlife category – and I’m delighted to say that we won! The award was presented by BBC wildlife presenter Iolo Williams in recognition of the outstanding work that this project has done not only to gather new information about bats in the urban landscape, but also to train new volunteers to help deliver actions under the biodiversity action plan. The urban environment is an important area for people to get to engage with bat conservation and we need to ensure that bats are not disadvantaged by increasing urbanisation.

The ceremony was a great night and we all had an enjoyable time. It was a tremendous and fitting accolade for everyone who took part. Those volunteers who were able to be there on the night all felt really proud of this achievement - and so they should! Well done to all of them who continue to make this project such a success. Next year will be the International Year of the Bat so this is a great boost to 2011!

For more information about the Urban Bat Survey Project, you can read the full 2009 survey report.

Steve Lucas
Wales Bat Officer

The work of BCT in Wales is also financially supported by the Countryside Council for Wales. For more information, see BCT's website.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A successful Halloween for bats

Fundraising & Membership Officer Harriet Henley talks about BCT's Halloween marketing campaign

So here we are in November with the discount pumpkins and rejected Halloween odds and ends being removed from the supermarket shelves and replaced with increasingly premature Christmas-themed aisles!

If you are one of our Facebook fans or Twitter followers, you will have undoubtedly been aware over the last week that Halloween is a big event at the Bat Conservation Trust. Every year we ask ourselves this question; should we do anything in recognition of Halloween and thus acknowledge the link between bats and this annual scare-fest? And every year we come to this conclusion; yes. Of course we should!
Bats are intrinsically associated with Halloween and as silly as this may be it’s not going to change any time soon. Bats are inevitably on people’s minds at this time so we try to use the build-up to Halloween as an opportunity to do some serious myth-busting and encourage people to embrace their furry friends that feature so prominently throughout the festivities. After all, we probably wont be seeing much batty action now until the spring, so why not give bats a good old send-off into hibernation by turning Halloween into a celebration of all things bat!?

That is exactly what some of you bat-fans have done, so I thought I'd share a couple of the things that people have done for bats this Halloween...

We had some fantastic entries to our Halloween competition; “Halloween night in the life of a bat”. There were comedic accounts, diary-esque entries and some impressive poetic feats. The competition was judged by our esteemed panel of expert judges… BCT’s very own Helpline, who decided that the deserved winner was Jennifer Duran from North Carolina in the USA. Jennifer’s fantastic poem describes a bat’s feelings about Halloween night and really echoes our mission this year to get people to celebrate bats at Halloween. (Read Jennifer’s poem)

On Twitter, Laura Thompson showed us some amazing bat lino prints that she’d made (pictured above). Laura says; “The prints are ATC (artist trading card) sized lino prints based on images from the royal mail mammals postage stamps. I basically did a sketch, transferred it to the lino, then cut it out and printed it. The image is a 'test' print and the second image is of the ATC's I made.”

An in another aesthetic twist Martin Roberts, a trainee bat worker in Dorset, launched his second album “Attack of the pipistrelles” at a pub in Bournemouth on Halloween. Martin will be donating all proceeds of the album launch to BCT for us to use for bat conservation – thanks Martin and good luck with the album!

And finally, check out Kazz Larkin's batty pumpkin carving, I think we'll all be following suite next year!

So all in all this Halloween has been a storming success, and people have really gone above and beyond to THINK BAT throughout the festivities. The highlight for me has been the amazing level of interaction and response that we’ve had from all you bat fans on Facebook and Twitter. So a huge thanks to all of you for getting involved this Halloween (and for tolerating our awful batty puns!)

Harriet Henley
Fundraising & Membership Officer

(Currently sitting in the bat cave, desperately trying to convert aforementioned puns into a Christmas theme – apologies in advance!)