26th January 2016
BatLife Europe has announced "Bat species of the Year 2016". After announcing three contestants in 2015 (read HERE) - common pipistrelle, Daubenton's bat and Noctule - the chosen species was the Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)! We would like to thank all of those who voted, they were all worthy winners but this year belongs to the Noctule.
Over 30 countries across Europe will focus on promoting conservation issues and raising public awareness about this remarkable species in 2016. The Noctule is one of the largest British species and is usually the first bat to appear in the evening, sometimes even before sunset. They have a characteristic powerful, direct flight on narrow pointed wings and they usually fly in the open, often well above tree-top level, with repeated steep dives when chasing insects. Noctules can fly at a mesmerising 50 kph!
Even though this species is relatively wide spread across the UK it has become scarce in some areas owing to modern intensive agricultural practices resulting in the loss of suitable feeding habitat such as permanent pasture and woodland edge/hedgerows rich in insects and other invertebrates. Intensive management and loss of suitable trees for roosting is a major factor.
In more recent years it has been found that the Noctule seems to be one of the species at higher risk of collision with wind turbines in Britain. Recent research found that 24% of individuals killed by wind turbines belonged to this species (read more HERE).
The National Bat Monitoring Programme is a great opportunity to help monitor bat populations. If you have some bat detector experience and would like to help us determine how Noctules are faring, you can join in HERE and carry out Field Surveys. If you do not but would still like to help monitor bat populations don't worry; there are surveys for everyone, from beginners to experts! Find the survey that best suits you HERE.
Bat Conservation Trust will keep working towards the conservation of this species and raising public awareness about it.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Batlife Europe is an international NGO built from a partnership of national bat conservation organisations committed to promoting the conservation of all bat species and their habitats throughout Europe. http://www.batlife-europe.info
The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) is the only national organisation solely devoted to the conservation of bats and their habitats in the UK. Its network of 100 local bat groups and more than 1,000 bat workers survey roosts and hibernation sites, and work with householders, builders, farmers and foresters to protect bats. www.bats.org.uk
All British bats are protected under British law, because of severe declines in bat numbers during the twentieth century. Loss of roosting habitat to development and construction, loss of foraging habitat as farming practice has changed (using pesticide and losing meadows and hedgerows) and loss of hedgerows, waterways and commuting routes linking the two all contributed to the declines in bat populations.
Because of widespread population declines and continued vulnerability, all British bat species are European protected species and afforded a high level of protection under both the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Deliberately capturing, disturbing, injuring and killing bats is prohibited, as is damaging or destroying their breeding sites and roosts.
The Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228 is for anyone who needs help with bats If you find a grounded or injured bat, believes bats to be at risk or think you may have bats or want to let us know about a bat roost site please call the Bat Helpline 0345 1300 228