Bat Training: Identification, Ecology, Handling and Survey

Bat Training: Identification, Ecology, Handling and Survey

As many of our ecologists are actively working towards bat survey licences or assist in bat survey work, we run in-house training to address typical gaps in their knowledge and experience. The training also helps ensure that our bat fieldwork is of a very high standard, and our commercial work is robust.

The latest of these training events was a two day course held in our Oxford office in February 2019.

Course Content

The course was run by Dr Peter Shepherd (Partner at BSG Ecology) and covered bat identification, bat ecology and biology, and the theory behind tree and building survey for bats. There were also practical sessions on tree and building inspection, and handling experience for those attendees who had had rabies jabs and were looking to move towards Level 2 Class Licences.

Purpose of Training

Bat identification is technically challenging, and to become proficient requires considerable experience. Part of the course therefore involved instruction on the key identification features of UK bats.

Designing and undertaking robust bat surveys goes beyond identification, however, and requires an understanding of bat biology and ecology. For example, understanding the thermoregulatory requirements of male, female and juvenile bats at different times of the year will enable a good surveyor to think about the sort of roosting conditions that bats will need at a given time. A knowledgeable surveyor will adapt their survey to ensure all possible roost sites are considered.

Learning from day one was put into practice in day two when a bat roost visit was completed under licence (as part of a long term monitoring scheme for a known roost). Attendees then completed a comprehensive written and sample identification examination to test their knowledge and survey skills.

Handling Experience

Handling experience for ecologists aiming to secure a Level 2 Class Licence formed part of the course. Live common and soprano pipistrelles, brown long-eared bat, noctule and Natterer’s bats held under licence by a qualified bat carer were brought in. As well as instruction and practice in safe handling of these bats (which are all animals that cannot be returned to the wild), this provided an opportunity to study identification features. BSG is grateful to David Endicott of Oxfordshire Bat Group for giving us his time and for bringing in the bats.

The Provider

Dr Peter Shepherd is a very experienced bat consultant. .He has provided industry leading bat training on behalf of the Bat Conservation Trust since 2000. Peter also currently sits on Natural England’s ‘Bat Expert Panel,’ was on the steering group (at the invitation of Renewables UK) of the recent SNH bat guidance for survey and monitoring at onshore wind farms, and has been a key contributor (as an author and in an editorial capacity) to all three editions of the Bat Conservation Trust’s Good Practice Guidelines for Professional Ecologists.


“The bat training course was very enjoyable and useful.  The course covered a variety of aspects, from bat handling and identification to bat survey, including the identification of field signs. Of particular use was learning to identify bat species using morphological features and biometric measurements. We also covered the identification of droppings, and were able to compare droppings from a variety of species. One of the key messages from the course was that knowledge of bat biology and behaviour is important in understanding how different bat species use habitats and structures at different times of year, and how this can inform survey.”    Joanne Conway, Ecologist

“The bat training delivered a good balance between practice and theory. I found the dropping ID and biology with ecology sections particularly valuable in developing my knowledge base for future bat surveys.”    Claire Wiggs, Ecologist

“The recent bat training course led by Peter Shepherd was an essential step in my development as a professional bat surveyor, and I found the course content to be highly interesting and engaging. ”    Joseph Bishop, Ecologist

For bat consultancy support, please contact one of our offices.


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