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Going batty

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We’re well into the start of the bat survey season here at Bagshaw Ecology. From the 1st of May we’ve been out dawn and dusk monitoring bat activity outside buildings and in suitable habitats. Strangely, we’ve missed it somewhat over the winter…

We use a variety of techniques to detect bat activity with the most usual being bat detectors. These are small devices which pick up echolocation (Normally inaudible to human ears) and allow us to listen to it during the survey. From this we can identify how many and what species of bats are present. We’re also very well practised in the art of spotting bats emerging and re-entering buildings, a vital skill for bat surveys!

We have 17 species of bat breeding within the UK with 10 of these being recorded in West Yorkshire. These different species all prefer different roosting conditions, for example the tiny common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus (Our most common bat species) is a cavity roosting bat often found in buildings. They are not fussy and can squeeze themselves into spaces the size of a AA battery. Pipistrelles are often found under slate roof tiles, between the joists of roof beams and in cracks in walls. In comparison, brown long eared bats Plecotus auritus prefer a larger very dark roof void in which they can fly around in before emerging at night to hunt. Other species such as our largest bat, the noctule Nyctalus noctula, prefer to roost in trees.

All British bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, extended by the Rights of Way Act (2000), making it an offence to deliberately or recklessly:

  • Injure, kill, or capture a bat.
  • Disturb a bat (whether in a roost or not).
  • Possess or control any live or dead specimen of a bat.
  • Destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for protection by a bat species.
  • Sell, barter or exchange a bat.

This means if your development proposal will be affecting features which have potential for roosting bats you may be required to submit a bat survey with your planning application to avoid fines and delays. With bat season starting soon, now is the perfect time to enquire about a bat survey at your site.