The NBP was initiated in 2015 to understand more about the distribution and conservation status of this elusive and enigmatic bat species. The presence of this species in Nottinghamshire is of particular interest, as this region is at the northern extent of its current UK range, as the species has a predominantly southern distribution across England and Wales.
“It is one of the UK’s rarest mammals and, despite some recent discoveries, there are very few known breeding sites for this species in the UK. The barbastelle is considered a priority species for national conservation measures and it is the bat species of highest conservation concern in the East Midlands,” begins Matt.
The project, led by volunteers, aims to acquire more barbastelle records, establish if there are any breeding populations, locate the first barbastelle roosts and gather data on the habitats used by the species, all in and around Nottinghamshire.
NBP primarily uses bat detectors and ‘advanced’ survey techniques (catching and radio tracking) to look for barbastelle bats. The article goes on to detail the project’s progress since 2011: 2016 was a particularly intensive year. Six bats were radio tagged and then tracked over the summer period. Twelve roosts were located, 11 in trees and one, interestingly, in a dilapidated farm shed.
One roost was found in an unused farm shed.
The data collected are still being verified and analysed, but some of the findings to date are outlined in the article.
“Going forward, it is hoped that suitable habitat management and sympathetic highways lighting regimes can be implemented at these local wildlife sites and other sites of demonstrable importance for bats, especially where the rare barbastelle is present,” Matt concludes. “However, this will only be possible with support from the most influential conservation organisations in the county, and the other key stakeholders. In the long term, with support from Natural England, the ultimate goal is statutory protection for the sites of most importance to barbastelle colonies in and bordering Nottinghamshire, where this national conservation priority species is at the northern limits of its current UK range.”
The full article can be read online at the Inside Ecology website.