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.

British Ornithologists’ Union Spring Conference 2014 – Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Upland and Alpine Habitats

John Baker, Senior Ecologist in BSG Ecology’s Oxford office attended the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) annual conference at the University of Leicester held between the 1st and 3rd April 2014.  This year’s theme was the ecology and conservation of birds in upland and alpine habitats. Speakers came from across Europe and North America and included researchers from universities, consultants and representatives of NGOs.

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.

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.

Prideaux v. Buckinghamshire County Council and FCC Environmental UK Limited EWHC 1054, April 2013

A recent high court judgment (Prideaux v. Buckinghamshire County Council and FCC Environmental UK Limited EWHC 1054, April 2013) provides useful clarification on a number of issues relating to wildlife law and policy, and in particular the interpretation of the law concerning European Protected Species and the consideration of satisfactory alternatives as one of the three derogation tests set out in Regulation 53(9) of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010.

Oxford Toad Patrol

Laura Grant from BSG Ecology’s Oxford office noted a number of toad casualties on roads when she moved to the New Hinksey area of Oxford. Last year she trawled the streets in spring on mild damp evenings to move toads, frogs and smooth newts to the breeding lake out of harm’s way.

BSG Ecology delves deeply into the new BS42020 Biodiversity – Code of Practice for Planning & Development

BS42020 was published in August 2013 and the first requests for ecology work on projects to be compliant with this new British Standard (BS) are starting to come through. BSG Ecology has long operated rigorous in-house standards for all of our work including developing and operating our own technical survey standards manual. As such the publication of a BS covering our work in relation to planning and development is very welcome. As always with anything new there is a need to review and understand the new guidance so that we can be sure we are implementing it effectively and efficiently.

Portland Bat Migration Study

Between August and November 2013 BSG Ecology deployed a static bat detector at Portland Bird Observatory, Dorset.  The aim of this was to identify any patterns of bat activity that may suggest bat migration at this site. The study formed part of a wider bat migration project undertaken by BSG, in which six coastal locations were sampled in 2013.

Biodiversity Offsetting – Are We All Ready?

Defra is currently analysing the consultation responses received on the Defra green paper entitled Biodiversity Offsetting in England.  The paper was published in September 2013 and the consultation period ended on 7 November 2013. It is understood that there is general support across all the main political parties to implement a biodiversity offsetting system in some form. Biodiversity offsetting is already being ‘used’ in different ways in development projects, not least within the Defra Trial areas. As such professional ecologists and other professional disciplines, in particular planners and developers, need to be up to speed with the principles, the application of the system as it currently is being implemented, and how it might evolve.