a rare sighting of a Bechstein’s bat


Back to our roosts: bat conservation

During the season of bat monitoring, our team is also devoting time to help conservation groups - with some rewarding results

In the period of uncertainty facing UK wildlife pre Brexit, our resident bat expert Ellie has made an exciting species detection, spelling good news for one of the rarest mammals in the South West and UK.

While on a monthly bat box check with the Gloucestershire Bat Group at Collin Park Wood, a nature reserve managed by the National Trust, Ellie had her first sighting and handling of a Bechstein’s bat. This native species is particularly rare; in terms of protection it’s one of only four bats categorised under Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive.

Generally found in southern England and Wales, these bats live almost exclusively in woodland, usually high up in the canopy, foraging within one or two kilometres of their roost. Given their habitat, sightings and identification of Bechstein’s are relatively uncommon – though there can be chances to spot them flying nearer to the ground, when they are socialising or in search of food.

According to Ellie, this particular bat’s appearance is a good sign, as it indicates roost loyalty. This individual was ringed by the Gloucestershire Bat Group last year; following hibernation, its return to this location may also signal the presence of females in the area, and therefore breeding.

A rewarding day of monitoring and recording for the group, which also found a Natterer’s bat maternity colony, in two nearby roosting boxes.

The handling of bats is important to their monitoring and human understanding – but requires training and given their protection status, a licence.

A Natural England Level 2 Bat Licence holder, Ellie’s commitment to this group and various regional conservation teams means she is experienced in the handling and identification of these nocturnal mammals – a skill employed when undertaking monitoring and surveys for clients, to advise on ecological and mitigation measures required for successful development.

Hopefully, this Bechstein’s bat will reappear during one of the group’s monthly checks next year. By then too, we hope that the future for these European Protected Species becomes clearer and more certain under UK legislation.

We will be keeping our clients and contacted updated in the meantime, on Brexit’s effects on wildlife and planning issues.

For more ecological guidance in this area, please contact us.

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