Have you been asked for a Bat Survey in Wiltshire?
Wiltshire is a landlocked county in the southwest of England, characterised by high downland and wide valleys. It’s predominantly rural and rests on chalk, which is a porous limestone. Best known for its ham, it’s also home to monuments like Stonehenge. In fact, the county has more prehistoric sites than any other in England.
Out in the Wild in Wiltshire – bats and more
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust do a lot of great work to support wildlife on sites that have rare species and habitats, broadleaved wood pastures and woodland and chalk streams, rivers and grassland. The Savernake Forest, part of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and North Wessex Downs, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest on the edge of Malborough and is found to support the barbastelle bat.
The rarest bats in Wiltshire
Wiltshire is home to 13 out of the 17 breeding species of bat in the UK, although there is a single record of a Geoffroy’s bat on the western border. One species that resides in Wiltshire is the Bechstein’s bat. This is one of Britain’s rarest resident species. They emerge after dark and move along hedgerows and roads to feeding locations close to their roosts. They fly steadily beneath tree canopies to snatch insects from branches and leaves or from the ground. They are found predominantly in woodland, parkland and gardens.
The natterers bat is medium-sized, with a pink face and slightly curved and long ears. They forage in foliage, farmland and over sheltered water and can squeeze into small spaces. This is handy as they live in deciduous woodland and in small tree rot holes and parkland that’s close to water.
The barbastelle is an elusive and rare breed and occupies deciduous woodland and is distinctive in appearance compared to other UK bat species. Their ears are large and meet in the middle, a flat face with pug-like features and dark fur with white tips. They are found in southern and central England and Wales and hunt around dusk. Their hunting habitats are woodland areas, wet meadows and streams. The barbastelle is extremely rare and are listed as Near Threatened globally on the IUNC Red List.
Everything you need to know about bats and planning consents in Wiltshire
All bat species within the UK are protected by law under the Habitats and Species Regulations 2019, which means if you disturb, harm or kill a bat, or destroy their roosting habitat – whether that’s in a tree or a roof space for example, you can even unwittingly face prosecution. However, serious consequences are actually quite a simple thing to avoid.
If you’re planning on carrying out some home renovations, landscaping or demolishing any buildings, you simply need to seek the expertise of a professional ecologist who will come out and conduct surveys, to determine whether or not there are bats present at your property. The first port of call is a walkover of the area in question to 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. If there is any evidence during this scoping stage bat survey, this will then trigger a second phase survey (Bat Emergence and Re-entry 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.
The next step: get in touch with an ecologist at Arbtech
If you’re wanting more advice before starting any home improvements, why not contact our Wiltshire team of ecologists: Chris Formaggia, Joe Slade and Jonathan Stuttard.