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Bat Group Bulletin No. 142

Bat Group Bulletin No. 142: 31 March 2017

  1. Mitigation Case Studies Needed
  2. Bats in Churches HLF Bid Success
  3. Back from the Brink Funding Success
  4. Better Implementation of Habitats Regulations
  5. Wing Venation of Pipistrelle Species
  6. North of England Bat Conference
  7. Running the London Marathon for Bats!
  8. Natural England VBRV Annual Reregistration Form
  9. Consultation on the Funding Priorities of the Heritage Lottery Fund
  10. Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum Questionnaire
  11. Out of Hours Helpline Volunteers
  12. Greggs Foundation Environmental Grant
  13. Bat Research Papers, Reports & Other Relevant Publications
  14. Key Dates for Your Diary

1. Mitigation Case Studies Needed

There is currently a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of mitigation and compensation strategies for bats affected by development. The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management in partnership with the University of Exeter, and the Bat Conservation Trust have both secured funding for separate but complementary projects to fill this evidence gap. The success of these projects is strongly dependent on receiving mitigation case studies from ecologists - from consultants through to local authority ecologists.

We are therefore appealing for ecologists to provide the details of any bat roost mitigation case studies which fit our broad criteria. We are seeking cases in England and Wales involving damage or destruction of breeding sites or resting places of any of common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, brown long-eared bat, and any Myotis species; where the licences for the work expired in the period 2006 to 2014. In theory this means that Natural England’s Bat Mitigation Guidelines will have been available to inform these cases and that all cases will be at least two years old.

We would like to investigate whether bats return to sites in the longer-term, beyond the usual timescale of monitoring. If you have cases that fit the criteria given here where you think the owner would be willing to grant permission for BCT to carry out further bat monitoring then we would really like to hear from you. There is an online questionnaire (case studies can also easily be shared by uploading reports).

This is an opportunity for free monitoring with no strings attached and it will be reported on anonymously. Participation is key to the success of this project, which is an important part of the future of bat conservation! Finding enough mitigation cases and getting access to sites are going to be our biggest challenges and we’d appreciate any help you can give us. If you have any questions about this project please contact Jo Ferguson, BCT’s Built Environment Officer.

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2. Bats in Churches HLF Bid Success

We are very pleased to announce that last month the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) approved the development stage and the initial funding for the Bats in Churches Partnership project. This is such a fantastic outcome for people and communities, church buildings and bats and we are looking forward to getting the project underway.

The entire project will run in two phases: a 13 month development phase completing in March 2018 followed by a five-year delivery phase running until 2023. This result means we can now start work on the development phase of the project. You can read more about the project on the BCT website and there is also a project website with more details about the project, its aims and objectives.

We would like to thank all of the bat groups that provided the help, support and encouragement for the bid and have enabled us to achieve this fantastic result

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3. Back from the Brink Funding Success

Back from the Brink is the first nationwide coordinated effort to bring a wide range of leading charities and conservation bodies together to save threatened species (including the grey long-eared bat). Natural England will be working in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Trust, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and RSPB to pool expertise, develop new ways of working and inspire people across England to discover, value and act for threatened animals, plants and fungi. Read more on the BCT website.

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4. Better Implementation of Habitats Regulations

There have been recent high profile press statements relating to great crested newts and notably those relating to Natural England’s strategic approach to licensing. There has been a suggestion that this might lead to similar changes being implemented rapidly for bats. We are aware that a good conservation outcome is the underlying principle of making the protection for great crested newts work more effectively for both the newts and developers. Conservation of the species is being promoted at the heart of the approach to strategic licensing.  Despite this, there remain valid concerns about the way this might be taken forward, which are currently being discussed between the NGOs representing newts and Natural England. Importantly, BCT have been working hard to make it clear that principles that are being developed for one species of amphibian cannot simply be applied to 17 species of bat.

There is a general recognition that the Habitats Regulations need to be better applied to benefit wildlife and to avoid unnecessary burdens on business through the way the legislation is managed; they are fit for purpose but need to better implemented. BCT are making substantial positive steps in the better implementation agenda such as the ‘Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning’ project, the ‘Built Environment’ project and the new ‘Bearing Witness for Wildlife’ project, which encompasses both mitigation and conservation wildlife crime. Of course the work of the Bat Helpline has always been fundamental in this process too.

However, to address the situation further BCT are developing proposals for ways of improving the implementation of the law protecting bats. We are sharing this now as we feel it is important to make it clear that, alongside our lobbying to retain the legislation protecting bats and our work evidencing that bats and the legislation that protects them are not a burden if properly implemented, we are continuing to look at additional ways implementation could be improved further. 

We will, of course, continue to be a voice for bats in all political and policy arenas on these matters. Please see the BCT website at for more information, including the areas we are looking at working on.

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5. Wing Venation of Pipistrelle Species

In several recent publications it has reported that different species of the Pipistrellus genus have a difference in their wing venation.  Whilst a large percentage of each species have the ‘typical’ venation: others do not.  The question is why?

This is an interesting question which Oliver Lindecke, a PhD student from Germany, is looking into to see if any answers can be found. Oliver started this investigation as bat worker long before his current PhD research.

Oliver is requesting that if any Pipistrelles are captured this year in the UK, in addition to the normal biometric data collected, would bat workers and bat carers please record the wing pattern and send him the details.

Oliver encourages bat workers and bat carers to record this information because it may highlight the degree of variation already observed in several mainland Europe populations. If anyone captures Kuhl’s Pipistrelle please also note venation. Oliver is happy to compare the data and give feedback to anyone who wants to share wing cell records with him.

Please send your records to Oliver Lindecke (or you can post them to: Oliver Lindecke, Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg Central Repository for Natural Science Collections Domplatz 4, 06108 Halle (Saale). Germany)

(Thank you to Martyn Cooke of Surrey Bat Group for making the contact with Oliver and this very interesting study.)

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6. North of England Bat Conference

Bookings are now open for the 2017 North of England Bat Conference, taking place on Saturday 6th May at Gateshead College, Gateshead. The delegate rate is £35 for BCT members and £40 for non-members. For more information or to book your place, please see the event web page.

This event, along with other BCT conferences this year including the recent South West England Conference, is sponsored by Wildlife Acoustics. For more information about the sponsorship arrangements see the BCT news page.

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7. Running the London Marathon for Bats!

Steve Parker (BCT Trustee and South Lancashire Bat Group stalwart) is running the marathon this year (Sunday 23rd April) in order to raise money for the Kate Barlow Award; which aims to encourage postgraduate students to conduct a substantive bat research project and to honour the late Dr Kate Barlow's contribution to bat conservation. Steve is hoping to raise £5,000 so please do sponsor him.

Steve isn’t the only person running for bats, Sean Hanna is also running the London Marathon to raise funds for the Kent Bat Group and a local asthma charity. If you’d like to support Sean and Kent Bat Group, see Sean's fundraising page

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8. Natural England VBRV Annual Reregistration Form

If you are a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor (VBRV) with Natural England you should have received an email requesting completion and return of the VBRV combined annual reregistration and ladder check form.

If you have already returned your form to Natural England, then please accept their thanks. However if you’ve not yet returned your form please can we strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible (the deadline was 20 March) so you remain as a VBRV and are available for roost visits for the up-coming season?

Natural England tell us that only around 40% of VBRVs have so far returned their forms so they - and we -  are concerned that we may struggle to provide the invaluable roost visit service in 2017 if VBRVs do not reregister by returning these forms.

If you need another copy of the form or to return your form please email the Natural England bat volunteer team

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9. Consultation on the Funding Priorities of the Heritage Lottery Fund

The UK Government has launched a consultation (see link below) on how HLF distributes National Lottery funding to heritage projects across the UK. One of the question areas is about whether they should continue to fund land and nature projects.

HLF fund hundreds of projects each year of all types, shapes and sizes on our heritage. Every five years this is reviewed, and the public are asked what should be the priority for funding over the following five years. At the moment, HLF fund things like natural heritage, historical buildings and monuments (built heritage) and community heritage. You have probably been into a building or walked on a nature reserve or maybe volunteered for an organisation that has received funding through HLF.

You may wish to respond to this consultation to encourage HLF to continue to fund natural heritage projects, especially if you have been a beneficiary of HLF funding 9as a number of bat groups have been) or would consider applying to them in future. The consultation is our chance to say what we feel is important for the lottery to support. It takes about 15 – 25 minutes to complete (depending on how much additional information you wish to share).

The closing date is 6th April, and individuals can respond using the online form

(Thank you to Cath Shellswell of Somerset Bat Group for promoting this consultation.)

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10. Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum Questionnaire

The Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) is currently undertaking a Review of the Biological Recording Infrastructure in Scotland.  As part of the information gathering stage of the Review they have released a questionnaire and would like to hear your views!  By completing our questionnaire you will be informing the Review of your requirements for the biological recording infrastructure.  Everyone’s views matter, whatever your role, whether you are an individual who records and manages your own records, or you work for a large NGO or government agency. 

Although their primary remit is for Scotland, they are interested in hearing from people from across the UK as the issues and improvements needed could be common to us all.  If sufficient responses are received from beyond Scotland, they will summarise their findings by country.

The questionnaire is online and the deadline for submission is: 7th April 2017

You can submit your answers to the questionnaire anonymously, but if you want to save and return to the questionnaire to complete it in more than one session you will need to supply your details when prompted.

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11. Out of Hours Helpline Volunteers

As you may recall from last month’s Bulletin we are recruiting Out of Hours Helpline volunteers for the 2017 season.  All participants will need to attend one of the Out of Hours training days. The first two training sessions (in London and Manchester) are now fully booked but the great news is, a third training session has been added and will be held in London on 20 May 2017 and spaces are filling up very quickly!

Please register your interest by getting in touch with Hannah Van Hesteren on 0345 1300 228 or by email to book your space.

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12. Greggs Foundation Environmental Grant

The Greggs Foundation has an Environmental Grant scheme that aims at improving people's lives by improving their environment. The programme is administered by seven charity committees throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Organisations may only apply once per calendar year for this grant. Please see the Foundation's website for more information.

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13. Bat Research Papers, Reports & Other Relevant Publications

Please note we normally only include bat related articles, reports and blogs in this section where they are available to read online or to download without charge. Exceptionally we do include details of papers or other items where we think they will be of particular interest but where only abstracts or summary information is available, but we will include a note of that in the text about the article.  For more information about how to access journal papers see the BCT website.

14. Key Dates for Your Diary

Watch this space for dates and reminders of conferences and other events you may be interested in. Please don’t forget you can get some extra publicity for your events by adding the details to the events page on the BCT website.

BCT Events

  • 06 May – North of England Bat Conference. Bookings are now open for more information or to book your place the event web page
  • 02-04 June – Wales Bat Conference **SAVE THE DATE** Please email Naomi Webster at nwebster@bats.org.uk to be notified when more information about this event is available and when bookings open.
  • 01-03 September – Swarming Conference **SAVE THE DATE** Please email Naomi Webster to be notified when more information about this event is available and when bookings open.
  • 18 November – Scottish Bat Conference **SAVE THE DATE**

Other Events

  • 29 June-01 July – 2nd International Symposium on Infectious Diseases of Bats, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. For more information see the event web page.
  • 01-05 August  – 14th European Bat Research Symposium, Donostia, Spain. For more details please see the event website

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