The Cleveland Batscape project has just two years to record as much information as possible about bats within our region!
Bats are highly mobile and much mis-understood animals; this project gives us the chance to try to understand where our bats are and how they are using the landscape. As time is short, especially as bats hibernate for several months each year, we need your help.
We are looking for volunteers to borrow bat detectors and go out and look for these elusive mammals. Bat detector workshops have been undertaken in the East Cleveland area and all the bat equipment required to undertake these surveys are now in place. More bat detector workshops can be undertaken on request. There are two Bat “hubs”, Loftus at the Old Co-op building and Saltburn at the Woodlands Centre in the Valley gardens. Equipment can be loaned from the hubs for a period of three nights or more so bat surveys can be undertaken by the general public. Keep an eye on the website for upcoming dates of bat detector workshops. The Bat detectors are however simple to use and a bat detector workshop is not necessary if you are prepared to read the instructions.
The East Cleveland Batscape project covers an area of 119 km squared. The plan is to undertake a survey in each and every one of these squares in less than 2 years. With 119 km2 there is a lot of ground to cover, so this is where you come in.
We need your help with the bat surveys. The surveys fall into two main types: static surveys and transects.
Ideally walking transects will collect the most amount of data, but the bat detectors can simply be placed into your garden, on a farm or in woods, wherever it is likely there may be bats active on an evening. More workshops can be undertaken to explain how to set up the bat detectors. All the kits come with simple instructions. You can collect data from your local patch and we will let you know what you have detected.
Static surveys are when the detector is left out over night in a secure location within a selected 1km square. Detectors can be borrowed for three nights (minimum) at a time and the equipment can be borrowed from one of the Bat “hubs”. To book out the equipment please telephone the Bat Officer on 01287 636382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All bookings are made through the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and not the individual bat hubs.
Bat data can also be gathered during walked, cycled or even driven transects. The advantage of transects is that you can choose a route that takes you through different habitats within a single 1km square, or even better go further afield and cover 2-3 1km squares in one go. These surveys will
need to be undertaken using an Anabat Express detector with the transect mode activated (don’t worry, they come with easy to follow instructions!).
Once you have chosen a route that is safe to walk/cycle in the dark, you need to set the detector up and then take it with you, as simple as that! The detector needs to be held with the microphone out so that it can hear the bats, ideally not next to anything that will rustle or squeak! These are fun to do in company, you can take a Magenta bat detector with you too so that you can hear bats while you are out and about. The Anabat Express will record the bat calls which can be analysed later and confirm which bats you detected where.
When to survey
Whatever type of survey you are planning to do, you need to pick nights when the weather is good as bats do not come out if it is too wet, too windy or below about 8°C (sensible animals!). You can find weather forecasts via a mobile phone or by checking up on www.metoffice.gov.uk
Bats are nocturnal animals and do not fly until at least dusk. Noctule can emerge at sunset or up to 20 minutes after, pipistrelle species bats emerge anything from 15-25 minutes after sunset, with myotis species and brown long-eared bats waiting until it is much darker to come out. If you are undertaking a static survey the detector needs to be in place and turned on before sunset. For transects, you can start anytime after sunset, but bear in mind that for the first 30 minutes or so you will only be able to find the bats that emerge earlier on.