4th October 2019

Greater horseshoe bat rediscovered in Kent

We are excited to announce that the rare greater horseshoe bat has recently been recorded in Kent for the first time in over 100 years. The last known record of this species in Kent dates from 1904.

The first record of this species in Kent for 115 years was made by Laragh Smyth and Emily Cummins of Lloyd Bore Ltd, a Kent-based ecological consultancy, in May 2019 during a commercial bat activity survey visit. A single pass by this bat was recorded at a location on the East Kent coast.

Bakerwell Limited also recorded greater horseshoe bat passes during a bat survey using static detectors at the end of June 2019, within a mile of the initial record. These records were identified by Angela Weaving and confirmed by Donna Popplewell and Fiona Baker. Six passes were recorded over a period of one minute on a single date, further confirming the return of this species to Kent.

Due to the unexpected nature of these records, the sound recordings have been verified, and the species identity confirmed, by Peter Scrimshaw of the Kent Bat Group and by national bat experts Sandie Sowler and Richard Crompton.

The reasons for the presence of this species in Kent are currently unknown. It is possible that an individual bat was blown off course or has travelled over from France, or that a bat has dispersed across the UK, from strongholds in the west of England or Wales. It is also possible that the species is now able to expand its range into Kent due to climatic changes. The habitats in the area that the recordings were made are not dissimilar to those in its western strongholds, prompting speculation that the records could represent more than just an itinerant bat.

Lloyd Bore and Bakerwell will be discussing further research efforts with the Kent Bat Group and Bat Conservation Trust, to ascertain whether this species is now resident in Kent.

The British Bat Survey is a new method of monitoring bats that will enable us to see how species like the greater horseshoe bat and others are distributed across the UK. To find out more see: https://www.bats.org.uk/our-work/national-bat-monitoring-programme/british-bat-survey. For further information about UK bats see: www.bats.org.uk

Contact: Samuel Durham of Lloyd Bore at: samuel.durham@lloydbore.co.uk or 01227 464340 for more information about the discovery

Photo Credit: © Dale Sutton/www.bats.org.uk

UPDATE (30th October 2019): At the end of August 2019, another single pass of a Greater Horseshoe bat was recorded on a static detector, at a location close to both of the initial records; the call was identified by Alex Burrows of Babec Ecological Consultants, working on behalf of Peter Brett Associates, now part of Stantec. This confirms that at least one individual has been present in East Kent throughout the summer, with clear recordings made in May, June & August.

UPDATE (8th November 2019): A fourth recording of a Greater Horseshoe bat has now been identified by Claire Munn of David Archer Associates at a different location close to all of the other sites; this was another clear single bat pass, discovered during the analysis of a dawn activity survey. It occurred later on the same night as the Bakerwell Ltd static detector pass in late June 2019 and is another very useful addition to our knowledge.

Kent Bat Group would be very grateful to receive any Greater Horseshoe bat records for Kent, from both professional and amateur surveyors alike, so that we can build-up an overall picture of any areas used by this species.

Please send the date, location, contact details and any further information to records@kentbatgroup.org.uk and indicate if the data is confidential; if possible, please also send any audio recordings, for species confirmation.