The Heritage Lottery Funded East Cleveland Batscape project ran from April 2015 to June 2017.
The East Cleveland Batscape area covered 120 km squares. Over the 2 year period of the project, surveys were undertaken in each and every one of these squares. Some of the squares were surveyed more than once (a total of 168 surveys were undertaken). However, not all surveys produced results due to a variety of reasons. Both walking transects and static surveys were undertaken. The bat acoustic data that has been collected, analysed and checked over, has been collated into one central spreadsheet. Information collated relating to each and every bat pass is not all necessary for the East Cleveland Batscape project but as the bat detectors automatically collect other information this has been retained and recorded onto the spreadsheet for potential use in the future for any other projects that the Environmental Records Information Centre may provide this data to.
By using a systematic approach to surveying across the whole of East Cleveland, the project was able to identify new hotspots for bats which were previously unknown, Including Skelton Castle, the coastal cliffs along the Cleveland Way, Grinkle Park Farm and surrounding area and several spots throughout Loftus, including Whitecliff, Handale and Rosecroft Woods.
The project recorded ten different species of bat in the East Cleveland area. The majority of detections were of the common pipistrelle, but a significant number of records were made of the Nathusius’ pipistrelle, a species which has been only rarely recorded in Great Britain and Ireland.
Three new species to the East Cleveland area were recorded by volunteers including soprano pipistrelles and Leisler’s bats. A single detection of a serotine bat in East Cleveland became the most northerly record known within the UK.
Looking at bat data plotted on a basic map of the most common species recorded, the common pipistrelle, it is obvious to see where certain transects have been undertaken, by the numbers of common pipistrelle bats recorded. Most transects undertaken throughout the South Eastern, more rural parts of the Batscape area, were undertaken along country lanes, all flanked with hedgerows. Looking at a basic map, it is obvious to see where these country lanes are, due to the concentration of bats along these transects.
In comparison, surveys undertaken out on open moorland produced very few bat detections, which is what would be expected. For example, within square 120, the other side of the reservoir at Scaling Dam, the transect followed a path over open moorland. This area was surveyed 4 times and no bats were detected. Yet, hundreds of bat passes were detected down by the edge of the reservoir and many along the edge of woodland on route to the path over the moorland.
Where surveys were undertaken in wooded areas there were varying numbers of bats. Some wooded areas within survey squares produced lots of bats, but not all did. This could be a result of many different factors.
Of the four old mining features that were surveyed, three proved to have good numbers of bats.
An old adit at Rosecroft Woods appears to having roosting Daubenton’s bats. The old Guibal fan house on the coastal path along the Cleveland Way proved to be a good place for foraging common pipistrelle and myotis bats as well as two Nathusius pipistrelle bats detections were made here. The old alum quarry along the Cleveland Way coastal path has a good number of foraging common pipistrelle and a few myotis bats. These are all definitely worth repeat visits and have the potential to be main features of guided bat walks.
Landscape features that were not considered to be of great importance for bats were those along the coast. Surprisingly, good numbers of bats were found at varying locations and habitats within the coastal areas of Batscape. Surveys along the beach and at the bottom and top of sand dunes between Marske and Saltburn, as well as at the foot of the cliffs at Saltburn detected good numbers of common pipistrelles. We consider these bats to be feeding on small flies that are feeding on rotten seaweed and biological marine debris.
Bats found along the top of the cliffs along the Cleveland Way Coastal path (the highest cliffs on the East Coast of England), all the way from Saltburn to Boulby were a complete surprise and something we are very keen to continue surveying.
The project recorded ten different species of bat in the East Cleveland area. There are just 17 species of bat resident in the UK. A summary of the project’s findings in terms of these bat species, is given below.
Eighty five percent of detections were of common pipistrelle. This is slightly lower than national average (around ninety percent). Many of the common pipistrelle calls that we detected had a very high start frequency.
Only two Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat passes had previously been recorded in the East Cleveland area. Seventeen were recorded during the East Cleveland Batscape project.
Four percent of all detections were of noctule bats. This is normal for most places in the UK.
Brown long-eared bats are understood to be misrepresented within bat data for varying reasons, so it was expected to not receive a high number of detections. Only twenty-one recordings were made. A further survey undertaken as part of the new Cleveland Bat group has uncovered a spot with brown long-eared calls during peak mating time, so this is a site we are interested in continuing surveys. Some of the detections as part of the East Cleveland Batscape data are rather unusual and had to be verified by more than one bat expert.
Myotis species (Daubenton’s, Natterer’s, Brandt’s and whiskered bat)
Nine percent of all bat detections recorded were of myotis species (965). This genus is very difficult to identify between species and so most detections are simply recorded as myotis species.
Low numbers of the Daubenton’s (33), Natterer’s (11) and Brandt’s bats (2) were identified. The whiskered bat was not identified but this is not a surprise. This highlights the difficulty in identifying to species level, even when using bat detectors considered to be capable of collecting acoustic data at the highest quality. Only if a very loud and distinctive call is produced by the bat and then received well by the ultrasonic microscope of the bat detector, can a myotis bat be determined to species level.
Three new species to the East Cleveland area were recorded by volunteers undertaking surveys as part of the East Cleveland Batscape.
Of the ten thousand plus bat pass detections analysed and checked, thirty-three were of soprano pipistrelle. There were no previous recorded detections of soprano pipistrelles in East Cleveland.
Leisler’s bats have been recorded previously to the North, South and West of the Cleveland area, but never actually recorded within Cleveland. Two recorded bat passes on the edge of Skelton beck woods were therefore interesting, but not totally unexpected.
The single serotine bat record is the most northerly record known within the UK. There are few records in the north of England and this bat is considered a rarity. This was a very exciting find.
Note the above maps do not include all data from the East Cleveland Batscape Survey as some data was still waiting to be verified when the maps were made up. Hopefully in the future data will be entered into Geographical Information Systems software to produce more meaningful maps.
A HUGE thank you to volunteers who collected data for the project, some volunteers collecting data for more than 10 survey squares. Another huge thank you to volunteers who painstakingly analysed the data using specific bio-acoustic software. Data collection and analysis is ongoing as part of the new Cleveland Bat Group.