The Irish National Bat Conference/an update on Research on the Pembrokeshire Islands

The Irish National Bat Conference/an update on Research on the Pembrokeshire Islands

Bat Conservation Ireland’s National Bat Conference 2014 takes place in Cork on 11-12 October. The conference will cover a range of topics relevant to bat workers in Ireland including migration, bats and wind farms, genetics and longevity, general ecology and conservation.

Rachel Taylor from our Newport office will be attending, alongside Dr Peter Shepherd, who will give a short presentation entitled “Seafaring bats – migration and foraging, a review and some thoughts”. We have been conducting considerable research over the past few years to establish if there are seasonal patterns of bat activity indicative of migration, and have reviewed all the literature on the topic that we can find.  In this presentation our findings will be briefly discussed, as will an overview of our current work, involving the deployment of detectors on Skomer, Ramsey and Skokholm islands in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

To date our research has led to the identification of several bat species that had not previously been recorded on the islands. Skomer Island now has records of a minimum of nine bat species, Ramsey Island a minimum of eight, and Skokholm Island a minimum of four bat species.

The bat species recorded on Skomer during September include Leisler’s Bat and Nathusius’ pipistrelle. The latter was recorded on all three islands in September.  These species, along with noctule, are known to migrate considerable distances in mainland Europe.  The timing of their occurrence is interesting, as it corresponds to known times of migratory movement in mainland Europe.

There have also been records of bat species that weren’t expected. Barbastelle has been recorded on Skomer and Ramsey Islands for the first time in September. Barbastelle are normally associated with woodland, a habitat that is missing from both islands.

Greater horseshoe bat has been recorded on all the islands. It has been noted on Ramsay throughout the season, on Skomer between July and September inclusive, but has only been recorded on Skokholm (the most distant of the islands from the shore) in September.  If, as records suggest, there is no resident populations on Skokholm, this bat will have had to travel a minimum of 2.6 km (1.1 miles) across open water to reach the island.

In addition to the detectors deployed on the Pembroke islands, BSG Ecology has also deployed detectors on two ferries which regularly cross the North Sea this year.  These ferries sail between Felixstowe and Vlaardingen and Hull and Zeebrugge.

The full report of bat activity recorded at the Pembroke Islands and a separate report on the North Sea ferries are available below.

North Sea Ferry Bat Migration Research Report 2014

Pembrokeshire Islands Bat Survey Report December 2014


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