During Spring 2023, a selection of Arbtech‘s consultant ecologists visited St Fagan’s Museum of Natural History in Cardiff for an educational evening based around a training exercise in bat netting and handling provided by Richard Crompton.

Among a long list of other unique benefits, all employees at Arbtech are able to access an unlimited CPD budget, giving them the ability to broaden their understanding of certain areas that are relevant to their role and enhance their effectiveness at performing duties that will benefit the quality of their work to clients, both now and in the future.

A perk commonly utilised by Arbtech staff, the unlimited CPD budget sees the company giving each and every team member an opportunity to grow professionally and personally, with the most recent example consisting of an intimate training session led by a widely known, respected and accomplished professional in bat ecology.

Insight and Expertise from Bat Specialist Richard Crompton

Richard Crompton has worked in bat ecology since 1998, starting his career with Natural Resources Wales (formerly the Forestry Commission Wales) after studying countryside management at Aberystwyth University. He then moved on to founding Wildwood Ecology and working in various roles, including at the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), Natural England, as president of the Cardiff Bat Group (CBG), and as an ecology lecturer back at Aberystwyth University.

Currently, Richard Crompton offers ecological help and support in relation to bats and other protected species via his website Ecology on Demand. Part of the services he provides involves supplying ecologists with training, passing on his wealth of knowledge and experience to other professionals within the industry.

For Arbtech, he assembled a bespoke training course based around the netting and handling of the many species of bats situated across the UK. On an evening in May, a group of ecologists met with Richard Crompton in Cardiff at sunset for hand netting and handling. Each of the ecologists that attended aimed to improve key skills that would eventually contribute to achieving their class 2 and level 2 bat licences.


It is understandable that you may be considering reaching out to Ecology on Demand or Richard Crompton to administer training to employees or colleagues within your company, or simply assist in certain ecological issues you or your client are experiencing.

Before you reach out, however, you may be interested to see accounts from our ecologists. In the section below, you will find feedback from all seven ecologists that attended the recent training exercise:

Georgia Chapman

It was a good night – my first time netting using hand nets and Richard was lovely.

He explained to us the process of using a net to catch bats as they fly out of a roost feature. He then let us practise what he taught us and gave us pointers along the way.

We ended up catching enough bats to all handle and process at least two each. I feel much more confident handling bats now after picking them out from the nets which we used to catch them and hold them in.

It was a great chance to see a bat roost, as well as handle and see bats up close, and with colleagues too, which we don’t get to do very often.

A perfect opportunity to gain experience and add that experience to the logbook.

Beth Ellison-Perrett

The bat netting and handling session with Richard Crompton was an invaluable experience.

Richard showed us how to net bats emerging from a roost behind an external pipe on a building and then allowed us to undertake the netting. This meant that we could all actually get involved and experience hands-on learning.

The netting had a bit of a knack to it and Richard would give us pointers on better ways to catch the bats, which meant if we were to do it again, we would know the proper techniques.

Richard was an excellent and patient teacher, providing everyone with individual tips.

The handling part of the evening was an amazing experience where we got to handle, sex and weigh the bats that we had previously netted. Again, Richard was an excellent teacher and would help when needed. With his help, I was able to weigh, sex and survey the wings of three soprano pipistrelles.

It is definitely a session I would undertake again.

James Fielding

It was an incredible opportunity from top to bottom.

Everything from the location to the training to the camaraderie was fantastic.

Richard is brimming with expertise and industry experience, and I really appreciated having a meal with him before the training and picking his brains on some controversial issues within the ecology field. Richard then took us to St Fagan’s – a unique site full of interesting buildings and – luckily for us – some bat roosts.

We were shown how to assemble and conduct the hand netting as bats emerged from the roost, and after a brief practice, dozens of soprano pipistrelles erupted from a soffit box. The next half an hour was an exciting and adrenaline-fuelled blur, during which we netted and processed around twenty bats.

Richard is careful to rotate which roosts he uses for his training so as not to overstress the colony, and this particular group hadn’t been surveyed since before the pandemic, so I imagine it came as quite a surprise to them! That said, some of the bats proved amazingly acrobatic at avoiding our nets, including one which flew into my net and then expertly threaded out of a hole in the side.

I found the handling section of the training quite difficult, as I didn’t have much experience before it, but Nicole and Jonathan came to my rescue when I got into difficulty, and I came out of the other end feeling far more confident in my bat handling skills.

Richard and I also tested some infrared camera setups at another nearby roost, and Richard then helped me troubleshoot some issues with the footage a few days later, which was appreciated!

The training was incredibly useful and far more electrifying than I had anticipated. I left feeling much more confident about bats and energised to pursue my level 2 licence.

Nicole Gullan

It was amazing to spend time with Richard and pick his brain.

He pretty much wrote the book on bat surveys, so we were all a little star-struck, but Richard was very kind, funny and generous, and we all learned a great deal.

As it had been difficult to get bat handling training for several years, we are glad to have got some under our belts, helping us to get closer to our class 2 bat licences. The bats themselves were great sports too!

Megan Knapp

Richard was full of knowledge.

It was great to pick his brains on netting and handling, conditioning, and IDing bats, particularly soprano pipistrelles.

He made it interesting, and I was happy that I was able to take part in it.

Mel Reid

I found the course extremely useful for gaining knowledge and skills in netting and handling bats.

Richard was a brilliant trainer. He was engaging, supportive and extremely knowledgeable.

I also had great fun at the same time, which was an added bonus!

Jonathan Stuttard

The netting training was excellent.

The soprano pipistrelle maternity roost had one clear exit feature, which helped us to catch a large number of bats in the net.

We all netted, handled and processed numerous bats, accounting for species and gender ID, weight, checking females for pregnancy, and measuring forearms.

All in all, a very insightful session with Richard, who is very nice and informative.