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.

Partnering Swansea University: Dartford Warbler Research

During 2014 BSG Ecology provided training to two Master of Science students at Swansea University in order to help them develop their ornithological field skills.  This enabled them to complete research projects on a species of particular local interest, Dartford warbler.  The partnership was facilitated by the Access to Masters initiative, which is backed by the European Social Fund.  In this short article, Hannah Meinertzhagen summarises the findings of her study, and the benefit she got from partnering with industry professionals.

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.

Olympic Park – Establishing an Ecological Legacy

Dr Peter Shepherd will be giving a short presentation to the CIRIA organised event titled “Biodiversity site tour – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park” on the 11th of September. The aim of the event is to consider the success of current maintenance and monitoring of on-site biodiversity initiatives in order to ensure long term biodiversity benefits. This is part of the on-going training and CPD events programme organised by CIRIA .

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.

External Entomology Training provided by BSG Ecology

BSG Ecology has been growing its in-house and associate invertebrate advisory team over the last two years. Our team is led by Dr Jim Fairclough and we have four specialist invertebrate ecologists, and several other staff with more general invertebrate experience.

As well as providing advice to clients on planning-related issues, Jim is also a passionate trainer of ecologists and the wider public. In May 2014, Jim was at Withymead Nature Reserve, providing an insight into aquatic life, through a series of classroom and outdoor sessions.

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.

Dartford Warbler Research

BSG Ecology is currently providing technical support to MSc students under the tuition of Dr Penny Neyland and Dr Laura Roberts of Swansea University for their ornithological dissertations.

Owain Gabb, of BSG Ecology’s Swansea office, initially approached the University with ideas about studying aspects of Dartford warbler ecology and distribution on the Gower Peninsula in 2013.  Following some discussion with academic staff, the topic was put to students on the 2014 MSc Environmental Biology: Conservation and Resource Management course as a potential research area.