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  Bat survey/bat walk for woodlot owners

A bat walk, led by Kent Bat Group was originally planned to take place on the 6th September 2008. However, it had to be postponed until summer 2009 due to very bad weather (in very poor conditions bats don’t tend to stir from their roosts at all). Some general advice on woodland management for bats was given by Kent Bat Group however, and an initial habitat walk was undertaken in daylight to help identify potential bat feeding areas and survey areas. The Bat walk has been re-scheduled for May 2009 and will be advertised again to owners near that date. Leaflets about bats in woodland from the Bat Conservation Trust were circulated to owners and the Friends of Old Park Wood have become members of the Kent Bat Group

Bat walk/survey - paid in advance due to original date being postponed: donation to Kent Bat Group = £100

 

BAT SURVEY RESULTS

Old Park Wood, Goudhurst  TQ 753390 -  Bat Survey  16th May 2009 

 

Conditions:  Start 20.30  Dry 11.2C  10% cloud   Sunset:  20.40

                     End  22.10  Dry   7.1C   Clear

 

Background

Old Park Wood was previously managed commercially, with sweet chestnut being coppiced for fence posts etc.  Although a little of this is still carried on, the woodland is now in multiple ownership and used mainly for leisure activity.  There is a wish to encourage wildlife, particularly protected species, and the purpose of this survey was to ascertain what bat species were already present.

 The six areas chosen for the survey were:

1. junction of Limberlost and Corsican,  
2. junction of Green, Northridge and Rustle,   
3. Bent Oak and Beach Mast,  
4. south of Retreat,   
5. mainly Bugle and Crow,   
6. Century and Round Green  

These were identified as having likely bat potential, with an owner and at least one experienced bat worker per group, walking along the main track and footpaths.  Peter Scrimshaw had a roving brief, covering the whole site, recording activity for later analysis with Bat Sound.

 The Survey

The first bats were encountered at 21.00 by groups 2, 3/5 and 4 and were single Common (45 kHz) Pipistrelles.  The bats were far enough apart geographically to be different individuals.  21.00 was the classic ‘twenty minutes after sunset’ which is the time pipistrelles are expected to emerge from their roosts, suggesting that they had not flown far.  Group 1’s first bat was a Soprano (55 kHz) Pipistrelle and group 6, at the northern tip of the woodland, had to wait until 21.20 for their first bat, a 45 kHz pip.

 

The largest group of bats were three 45 kHz pips, recorded feeding by group 2 in Rustle at 21.08.  Common pipistrelles were the most frequently encountered bats, commuting or foraging in all areas throughout the survey period.  Sopranos were found singly in 1, 2, 3 and 6; surprisingly not in 4, despite there being a lake in this area, nor 5.   

 

Interestingly, myotis type calls were reported at 21.22 along a woodland/field edge in area 2 and three similar sounding bats at 21.51.  They were also heard at 21.39 north of the path in 1, and at 21.42 in area 5; they were not reported in the other three areas.  Peter recorded a loud call at 21.36 south of area 1 (probably also the 21.39 bat).  He was able to identify this with Bat Sound as a Long-eared bat.  It may well be that all these myotis type calls were made by LEs, who are, after all, a woodland feeding species.

 

Overall, the greatest bat activity was in area 6, where bats were flying up and down the main track, which there is bordered by conifers and is close to farm land.  The least activity was in area 4 (where we had hoped to encounter Daubentons on the lake) but includes the open timber yard and a large section which has recently been coppiced.  It was notable that generally bats were not using these recently cleared areas, presumably because of lack of insects.

 

Conclusion

 

This was generally a very encouraging survey as bats were found feeding in all areas at a relatively early time in the bat year, at reasonably low temperatures.  (Bats are not supposed to forage below 7C!)  As expected, the main ride and footpaths proved to be the most important.   It was particularly pleasing to find (probably Brown) Long-eared bats, the only disappointment being the Daubentons.  It was not possible to identify any roost sites so maybe an owner or two might like to do a dawn watch outside the forester’s cottage!  There are also suitable buildings nearby, outside the woodland itself.

 

 

Val Sutton

Kent Bat Group

 

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