National Bats in Churches Summary 2019
Thanks to all those who have taken part in the National Bats in Churches Study (NBiCS) – the first in a suite of two Bats in Churches volunteer surveys. This summer saw 47 churches surveyed from across England. Thank you also to those who contacted churches but weren’t able to survey this year. Thanks for the church representatives, from church wardens to vicars, who took the time to speak to us. In total this equates to over 300 volunteer hours.
Your Survey Results
If you surveyed a church this year, you can find the results of both the DNA and sound analysis on the online system. Just log in and go to My Churches. Press the Enter Bat Evidence Record button. Within this record you’ll find the DNA and sound analysis tabs have been populated.
Your records are important
Thanks to those who have already filled out the online survey form or have sent in their data. If you’re still to complete the questionnaire or the bat evidence information online, we’d love to have your complete records. Let us know if you have any questions or want clarification about the online system (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your records are incredibly valuable, even if you didn’t find any evidence of bats.
There are still plenty of NBiCS churches to select for next year! The map below shows the location of the churches which have already been selected, displaying a good scattering of churches across England. In total 164 churches have been selected for surveys, but we aim to survey 1000 over the coming three summers.
New to the surveys?
Next year we aim to survey 210 churches for National Bats in Churches Study and launch Church Bat Detectives. We need your help to do it. So far we have 195 volunteers registered. If you’re interested in joining the surveys please read more about them here, and register to take part. Importantly, you can help us to better understand how bats use churches with or without previous bat survey experience. We welcome you whether it is your first bat survey or your thousandth.
2019 pilot year for the National Bats in Churches Study
Of the 47 churches surveyed this summer, just over half had verified records – through either sound analysis or DNA analysis – of bats in the interior of the church. In total nine species of bat were recorded this year. By far the most recorded bats this year were the common pipistrelle, brown long-eared bat, soprano pipistrelle and serotine. We also recorded Natterer’s bat, in addition to greater and lesser horseshoe bats, barbastelle and even a grey long-eared bat in Devon. When bats were recorded in churches, all except two had different types of bats confirmed, with up to four species identified.
Zero bats recorded
The survey simply looks at the interior of the church, and only for a small window of time in summer. Therefore, a result of zero bats does not necessarily mean that bats do not use the building. Bats may be using the roof voids, or the roof tiles for example, or we just haven’t been able to record them. However, zero results are extremely important to collect. NBiCS is looking at a random sample of churches across England. At the end of the four year study we’ll be able to have a good idea as to how many churches in England have bats in the interior in the summer, and which factors affect the likelihood of bats using a church. To do this we need these zero results. Thank you to our zero heroes!
Looking forward to next year
This year we've learnt a lot and the methodology has worked well. We've listened to feedback and we'll be working this winter to update the online system and forms for the coming season. Next year we'll be back bigger and better to survey over 200 churches for NBiCS and hopefully many more for Church Bat Detectives.