Matt Hobbs to Speak at Spurn Migration Festival (7th September)

Matt Hobbs to Speak at Spurn Migration Festival (7th September)

Principal Ecologist Matt Hobbs will present a talk to the Spurn Migration Festival in East Yorkshire on the subject of bat migration and BSG Ecology’s on-going research project to look at bat migration patterns at coastal sites around England. The event is the first of its kind in the UK and Matt’s talk will be incorporated into a busy programme of events during 6-8 September, that will include guided migration watches, sea-watching, bird-ringing demonstrations, moth-trapping and illustrated talks. The talk will take place on Saturday 7 September, and is entitled “An Introduction to Bat Migration”. It will provide an introduction to bats and what is known of their migratory behaviour, with a focus on Europe, and also provide a summary of the emerging results of BSG Ecology’s on-going study. Matt will also be guiding a bat walk on the evening of the 7th.

In 2012 BSG Ecology undertook a pilot study to determine if pulses of bat activity indicative of migration could be detected, with Dungeness in Kent chosen for the initial work.  The site was selected due to its geographical location, physical characteristics (open and exposed with few roosting opportunities) and the presence of the Bird Observatory, which has a permanent ecologist, David Walker, who helped with the work. The study found increased activity of Nathusius’ pipistrelle in May and September, when the species is known to migrate across continental Europe.  This provided a strong indication of bat migration into/out of the UK during both spring and autumn periods, which we are looking to confirm by widening the scope of the study in 2013.

In 2013, the study has been extended to include several other locations, including two others in Kent (Sandwich Bay and Dover), the Severn Estuary (near Bristol), Spurn lighthouse (East Yorkshire) and Portland Bill (Dorset).  The Kent sites allow us to look at potential migration in an area which, intuitively, it would be expected to be detectable (if occurring). The sea crossing between Kent and continental Europe is the shortest available to bats, and in interpreting the data we are also considering weather patterns (from bird observatory data) and other contextual information such as records of migrant moths and birds.

Pilot work at the other coastal sites will allow us to investigate whether, in fact, bats make regular landfall at sites further up the east coast of the North Sea, and also further to the west, either of which would involve longer sea crossings.  The detector on the Severn Estuary, which is located on a migratory flyway for birds, may also result in interesting contextual data on apparent bat migration and disperal (particularly Nathusius’ pipistrelle) that ties in with the rest of the study.

For further information about the work at Spurn, Portland, and on the Severn Estuary, please contact Jim Gillespie in BSG Ecology’s Newport Office – 01633 509000

For information on the work being undertaken in Kent, please contact Dr Peter Shepherd in BSG Ecology’s Oxford Office – 01865 883833

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