News & Views

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.
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.
During 2014 BSG Ecology provided training to two Master of Science students at Swansea University in order to help them develop their ornithological field skills.  This enabled them to complete research projects on a species of particular local interest, Dartford warbler.  The partnership was facilitated by the Access to Masters initiative, which is backed by the European Social Fund.  In this short article, Hannah Meinertzhagen summarises the findings of her study, and the benefit she got from partnering with industry professionals.
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.
Over the last few years BSG Ecology has been working with Andrew Cameron under a partnership called Crex, to help develop and implement the biodiversity element of the John Lewis Partnership Responsible Development Framework. One of the key commitments to biodiversity within the Framework is to achieve no net loss of biodiversity from the Partnership Estate by 2020. One of the first new stores where this biodiversity commitment is being applied is at Chipping Sodbury, in Gloucestershire.
One of our Principal Ecologists 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.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing is a relatively new survey technique that can help determine the presence or absence of great crested newts in ponds. Since this is still a relatively new approach its practical application and limitations for field surveys some uncertainty remains in the ecology sector about how it should be best applied and what its practical limitations might be. 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.
Dr Peter Shepherd will be giving a short presentation to the CIRIA organised event titled “Biodiversity site tour – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park” on the 11th of September. The aim of the event is to consider the success of current maintenance and monitoring of on-site biodiversity initiatives in order to ensure long term biodiversity benefits. This is part of the on-going training and CPD events programme organised by CIRIA .
Dr Peter Shepherd of BSG Ecology, along with Dr Sandie Sowler and Dr Ian Davidson-Watts, recently delivered an advanced two day training course on the ecology of the four Habitats Directive Annex II bat species resident and breeding in the UK (barbastelle, Bechstein's, lesser horseshoe and greater horseshoe). The course was conceived by Peter in 2013 in response to queries from more experienced bat consultants about advanced-level training to help them develop their knowledge and experience base beyond that covered by existing training courses and day to day work experience.
Defra confirmed in July 2014 correspondence with BSG Ecology that, ‘there are no plans at this stage to announce a way forward on biodiversity offsetting’. We enquired about the status of offsetting further to the Green Paper that was out for consultation in 2013, and the subsequent completion of the six biodiversity offsetting pilot projects in April 2014. Defra also confirmed in their letter that ‘They [the offsetting pilot projects] will require several months of analysis before they can fully inform our thinking. The final report of the results of the pilot offset projects is not currently available; however we are committed to publishing it.’