Need help with a bat?

Follow our advice

or call us on 0345 1300 228

Waterway Survey

Keen to try out your bat detecting skills?

Why not try out this survey monitoring activity of Daubenton's bats along a waterway near you? The survey method is straightforward and is ideal to try if you are relatively new to bat detecting, and still great fun if you have more experience! By taking part you can help us monitor how this species is faring across the UK.

You will need a heterodyne (tuneable) bat detector and a torch. We have a limited number of bat detectors which we can lend to volunteers. If you would like to borrow equipment please click here.

Find out how to take part.

Survey sites up for grabs!

We have lots of sites that have been surveyed in the past but need taking on by a new volunteer. Click here to see if there is a site near you. If there is not a repeat site near you then you can still sign up and we will allocate you a few new sites to choose from.

Daubenton's bats have a distinctive flight pattern and it is fascinating to watch them as they skim low over the water, often picking insects off the surface, as seen in the clip below.

A guide to taking part 

Sign up to this survey. This will take you to the NBMP Surveys page. Scroll to Waterway Survey to sign up.

July - we send you your survey pack

This includes survey forms, full instructions and a survey route map if you are surveying a repeat site.

You will be allocated one or more waterways to survey. If the survey is at a new location you will need to map out a route.

Waterway Survey example route 

July/early August - visit your site during the day

Seek landowner permission if needed.

Walk the route to check it is safe and accessible. If needed, modify the route to avoid potential hazards when walking at night, or contact us for a different site.

Waterway Survey daytime recce

August - visit your site on two evenings to carry out surveys

The first survey should be between 1st and 15th August and the second survey between 16th and 30th August.

The survey begins 40 minutes after sunset and usually takes about one hour.

You should not survey alone, so you will need one or more survey buddies. Bring friends or family along for safety and to share the excitement of watching bats!

Waterway Survey evening

Count the number of Daubenton's bat passes for four minutes at ten stopping points along the waterway.

Daubenton's bat flying over water

Send us your results

Once you have completed your surveys, post your completed forms or input your results online.

Waterway Survey form

Map your Waterway Survey transect online!

If you're a current volunteer with a Waterway Survey you can map your transect in our online interface! Just log in to your NBMP page and go to your site details. We've made a how-to video to make things as easy as possible!

Sign up to this survey. This will take you to the NBMP Surveys page. Scroll to Waterway Survey to sign up.

Contact us at if you need help with any aspect of taking part in this survey.

Your survey pack will contain full instructions for carrying out the survey method and identifying the species. For more help with carrying out this survey see the Waterway Survey online tutorial or attend an NBMP training workshop

Available Sites!

Click on the links below to see details of sites that need taking on by new volunteers in each region/country.

East Midlands

East of England

North East 

North West


South East (including London)

South West


West Midlands

Yorkshire and The Humber

Find out more

Waterway Survey available sites - 2016 (637 KB) - 14/04/16
Download to get a list of available Waterway Survey sites across the UK

You should follow us
Bookmark and Share

Subscribe today to receive the latest on bats and BCT direct to your inbox.

Bat Helpline

0345 1300 228