North Sea Ferries Bat Migration Research 2014

In 2014 we deployed bat detectors on two commercial ferries sailing routes through the southern North Sea. The two vessels were Flandria Seaways (DFDS Seaways) and the Pride of York (P&O Ferries), which sail from Felixstowe (UK) to Vlaardingen (Netherlands) and from Hull (UK) to Zeebrugge (Belgium) respectively. The aim of the study was to investigate the occurrence of bats over the North Sea, and to see if there were any clear patterns to records indicative of migration.

Pembrokeshire Islands Bat Research 2014

In 2014 we deployed bat detectors on the islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Ramsey, off the west coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales. The islands are between 0.8 km and 2.6km from the mainland.

The aims were to increase knowledge of the bat fauna and investigate evidence for migration through the identification of changes in seasonal bat activity. The detectors were set to survey from half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunrise from spring to autumn, the most active period for bats and the peak migration seasons.

Stable Isotope Analysis provides further evidence of Nathusius’ pipistrelle migration

The extent of bat migration between continental Europe and the United Kingdom (UK) is poorly understood. BSG Ecology has been conducting studies looking at whether there is evidence of bat migration into and out of the country since early 2012.  Using static detectors at various coastal locations and on North Sea ferries, we have consistently recorded peak levels of Nathusius’ pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii (a migratory species of bat) activity during the migration season for the species on the continent.

Matt Hobbs Presents to the Spurn Migration Festival

Principal Ecologist Matt Hobbs recently presented a talk entitled “An Introduction to Bat Migration” to the Spurn Migration Festival in East Yorkshire. The talk gave details of BSG Ecology’s ongoing research project to look at patterns of bat activity (potentially indicating migration) at coastal sites around England and Wales and, in 2014, on North Sea ferry / freight routes. The event at Spurn is the first of its kind in the UK and this is the second year that it has been held. Matt’s talk was incorporated into a programme of events between 5-7 September that included guided migration watches, sea-watching, bird-ringing demonstrations, moth-trapping and a number of illustrated talks. Matt’s talk provided an introduction to bats and what is known of their migratory behaviour, with a focus on Europe, and also provided a summary of the findings of BSG’s ongoing study.

Advanced Professional Training – Habitats Directive Annex II Bat Species

Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology, along with Dr Sandie Sowler and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts, recently delivered an advanced two day training course on the ecology of the four Habitats Directive Annex II bat species resident and breeding in the UK (barbastelle, Bechstein’s, lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe). The course was conceived by Peter in 2013 in response to queries from more experienced bat consultants about advanced-level training to help them develop their knowledge and experience base beyond that covered by existing training courses and day to day work experience.

Chittering Leisler’s bats

BSG partner Dr Peter Shepherd has been closely involved with a bat box monitoring scheme in Sherwood Forest over the last 16 years.  Since monitoring began, the species recorded have regularly included  noctule,  Leisler’s, common and  soprano  pipistrelles ,  with occasional  brown  long-eared bat  and whiskered/Brandt’s bats being recorded.

Internal Training: Bat Identification and Survey Design

Bat identification is technically challenging, and to become proficient requires considerable experience and training.  Designing and undertaking robust bat surveys goes beyond identification, however, and requires an understanding of bat biology and ecology. For example, understanding the thermoregulatory needs of male, female or juvenile bats at different times of the year will enable a good surveyor to think about the sort of roosting conditions that bats will be seeking out at a given time. As such, a knowledgeable surveyor will adapt their survey to ensure all possible roost sites are considered.

BSG Ecology Bat Research in 2014

BSG Ecology has started work on a range of new research projects in 2014.  This article summarises progress to date on new bat research.

BCT Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium 2014

Senior Ecologists Hannah Bilston and David Stiles attended the Artificial Light and Wildlife Symposium, organised by the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), in March 2014. A wide range of professionals came together to discuss the impacts that humans have on wildlife by the increasing use of artificial light in the night time environment; to hear the latest research on the subject and to look at ways in which the impacts of lighting can be avoided or mitigated.

Maximising occupation of bat boxes

Since 2008 Hannah Bilston, a Senior Ecologist in our Oxford office, has been monitoring bat populations in Finemere Wood, an ancient woodland in Buckinghamshire. The project was initiated by the North Bucks Bat Group (NBBG) in 2003 and formed the study site for Hannah’s MSc research into factors affecting bat box selection within Finemere Wood between 2009 and 2011. More recently, Hannah has been investigating ways to maximise occupation rates of bat boxes by maternity roosts of woodland bats.