13th March 2020
A photo submitted by one of our Trustee’s to the Mammal Society’s Mammal Photographer of the Year competition has been Highly Commended by the judges. Natterer’s bat against hazel was captured by Steve Roe during a survey in the Peak District’s Manifold Valley in Autumn 2019. The project which Steve leads is studying the mating phenomenon of some of our bat species known as autumn swarming. Occurring in late summer and throughout the autumn, the spectacle sees large numbers of bats congregating around the entrances to underground sites well after the time most of us are in bed (peak swarming can occur at 2am!). The Peak District project amongst other objectives is looking to discover which of the many caves and mines in the National Park are particularly important for this behavior so that sites can be further protected and enhanced in the future by working with the landowners.
Natterer’s bat Myotis nattereri is the most frequently observed species during autumn swarming surveys in the Peak District. The individual captured in Steve’s photo was one of many bats caught during that night using advanced survey techniques outside the entrance to a mine adit in a mist net. After being processed for biometric information taking a matter of seconds, it was released through the photographic equipment Steve was using to capture this image. Steve was inspired to try out the technique upon going to a talk by Daniel Hargreaves who has pioneered this photography technique and then seeing the equipment in action at a trapping event a couple of years later. The equipment Steve was using was kindly on loan from Daniel who taught Steve how to use the technique required.
Steve says “What I really enjoyed about this image was how the size of the bat was illustrated by being set against the hazel leaves in the background and shows just how small some of our bat species are, even though Natterer’s bats in the UK are thought to be one of our medium-sized species! The images captured that evening are now being used by Derbyshire Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust in their work to help show just how amazing our bats are and to remind people that whilst lots of our UK wildlife is hidden away often unseen in the dark, the role they play in our ecosystems is vital. I’d like to thank Dan Hargreaves for his generous loan of the equipment which allowed me to capture this image”.
Steve’s photo will be displayed alongside the other eleven images the judges have selected as Highly Commended as well as the winning images at the Mammal Society’s Spring Conference to be held at the University of Cambridge later this month on Friday 27th March. The exhibition is a free event and open to the public beginning at 7:30pm. More information about the conference can be found on the Mammal Society’s website: https://www.mammal.org.uk/events/66th-spring-conference/