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In this article, you can find out all about bat surveys for planning in Poole and Dorset.
Bordering the English Channel Coast, Dorset’s municipal authority areas include Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole and Dorset. With tourist attractions like Corfe Castle, the Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove to name just a few, it’s no wonder Dorset has Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a variety of nationally important landscapes. The county has the highest percentage of conservation areas in England and is wildly held to be the “wildlife capital” of the UK. This is because the scope of associated species and their habitats is exceptionally rich, taking in more than 80% of all British mammal species, 70% of butterflies and nearly half of all bird species. The UK’s most abundant grid squares for mammals and vascular plants are also both found in Dorset’s AONBs.
Dorset’s biodiversity and locally important wildlife
Biodiversity is a fundamental determiner of what constitutes an AONB. Dorset is remarkably rich in certain habitats and species: lowland heathland, meadows and forests especially. Cranborne Chase for example, covers 380 square miles and offers a variety of habitats for many animal species, from the brown hare to goshawks and butterflies. It’s also relatively free from light pollution and is designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve, which is very important for wildlife that can be easily disturbed or even permanently dispersed by light pollution e.g., bats.
Bats in Dorset: What do you need to know about Dorset’s rarest bat species?
Dorset’s climate being warmer and gentler than most of the country provides an excellent climate for bats. An exceptional county for bats, boasting all 17 breeding species native to the UK, Dorset’s Chiropteran inhabitants include the noctule, serotine, common and soprano pipistrelles and the Daubenton’s bat.
The noctule bat is the UK’s largest bat and is one of the earliest to emerge, often before dusk. It has a large wingspan so flies fast and high in search of food during the night. Another large bat is the serotine and is the second largest species in the UK. It is most regularly found in roof spaces; gable ends or chimney breasts. Although common in the county of Dorset, it is not present in the north of the UK.
The Daubenton’s bat is a medium-sized bat and is also known as the ‘water bat.’ It can be seen skimming gracefully within a few inches of surface water. There are 15 confirmed roosts in Dorset, mostly in trees and stone buildings.
The pipistrelle bat is the smallest of the species in the UK, but the most common with an estimated population of 2 million, like the serotine bat it’s also one of the most recorded bats in houses. It has a habit of squeezing between roof tiles with many homeowners being unaware they are even there.
Developers: How you can avoid delays and promote biodiversity
To help preserve the local bat population, the Dorset Bat Group play a key role to help document and protect the bats of the county. They carry out assessments, roost visits, talks with the public raising awareness of the bats in the area and how to protect them. One programme, designed to help report the bats in the county is Bats in the Belfry project. This is part of Open Air Laboratories Network, working alongside Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Living Churchyards for the Benefit of Wildlife. Over 100 parishes are involved in the project, many of which are located in urban areas where bats have never been recorded.
Okay. I need a bat survey. What do I need to know?
If you’re intending on carrying out building, renovation or landscaping work, you can do your bit to help protect the bats of Dorset by having bat surveys carried out by a professional ecologist. This will also go in your favour towards any planning permission you may require. The surveys will consist of a phase one survey (Preliminary Roost Assessment or PRA) where an ecologist will come and do a walkover of the area in question and check for any signs of a roost, this includes; looking for droppings, remains of prey and small cavities or holes in buildings, roofs or trees they can crawl into.
I’ve had my PRA done – what next?
If there is evidence, this will then prompt a second phase survey (Bat Emergence Survey or BERS) where the ecologist will come out at dusk or dawn and monitor whether there are any bats flying in and out of the location. Monitoring will be done with the naked eye and the use of echolocation equipment to listen for the sounds of bats feeding, infra-red and thermal imaging cameras.
Who can I contact to find out more about bat surveying in Dorset?
If you suspect you may have a roost in your home or garden, why not give one of our experienced ecologists a call. Our senior consultants Joe Slade and Natalie Evans are based in Dorset and Hampshire and will be more than happy to offer their advice. They have undertaken thousands of surveys between them and never failed to help a client secure a planning consent.