Thermal Imaging surveys for bats: practical applications

Since 2014 BSG Ecology has been using thermal imaging cameras in appropriate situations to determine the presence of bats in trees, bat boxes and other structures; and to identify flight lines and foraging behaviour to better inform the assessment of impacts on rare species of bat. We have been particularly interested in how this technique can assist us in the assessment and survey of potential tree roosts, which is always a challenging task.

Protected Species Training for The Parks Trust (Milton Keynes)

On 4 February 2015 BSG Ecologists Jim Fairclough and Hannah Bilston delivered a half day seminar on Protected Species¹ to The Parks Trust², the independent charity that owns and cares for many of the parks and green spaces in Milton Keynes.  This green space adds up to approximately 5,000 acres of river valleys, woodlands, lakesides, parks and landscaped areas alongside the main roads – about 25 percent of the new city area.

Use of eDNA for detecting great crested newts – how effective is it?

In this article we consider the use of eDNA analysis of water samples to detect great crested newts, and discuss the results of some recent survey work.  Whilst we identify limitations that need to be considered, it is also recognised that the technique provides a useful additional method for detecting great crested newts, and we use it in appropriate circumstances at sites throughout the UK.  The method has been endorsed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

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.

Making the best use of eDNA survey for great crested newts – opportunities and limitations

Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing is a new survey technique that can help determine the presence or absence of great crested newts in ponds. Since this is a new approach there is some uncertainty in the ecology sector about how it should be best applied and what its practical limitations might be at this time. There is a need to review the situation and try to establish clarity in advance of the 2015 survey season. This article discusses the potential applications of the process, and our perceptions of its limitations, which should be considered when planning survey work for great crested newt.

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.