2.9 Batty Quantocks
This project will increase understanding of Quantock bat populations, giving opportunities for many new people to learn about bats and their habitats. The Quantock Hills AONB Service have been monitoring bat populations since 2016 at various locations across the AONB. QLPS has added a new transect to the monitoring program as well as conducting pop up surveys with various parishes and partners.
Our area boasts the full range of bat species (potentially up to 16 of the 18 UK species) but there will be a focused attempt to fill some of the gaps in knowledge of Barbastelle bat distribution through radio tracking and roost identification over summer and early autumn 2022. Geckoella, a Watchet based ecological consultancy firm with all the appropriate licences to handle these rare and protected animals are doing this work for us.
Barbastelles are in important conservation priority in their own right, but because of the nature of their learned foraging behaviour (closely following the same hedge lines and other linear features each night) they also graphically illustrate the importance of habitat connectivity in the landscape.
Mapping their distribution and flight lines can be both an important interpretative tool and help to target the on the ground conservation effort.
Being able to assist with radio tracking has also offered a select group of committed people an exciting opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge of bats from casual recording to structured scientific research.
In Summer 2022 consultant ecologists from Geckoella worked with the QLPS and QHAONB team to deploy static bat detectors and conduct 11 nights of trapping and subsequent radio tracking.
Static Bat Detectors were used to record bat activity at 7 locations across the south end of the Quantock Hills. In total, 726 barbastelle bat passes were recorded across 4 sites: King’s Cliff; Fyne Court; Crowcombe Heathfield; and Broomfield Common.
In total, 125 bats of 12 different species were captured. The most common record was whiskered bat Myotis mystacinus, but included four barbastelle bat, two of which were female and one of which was lactating. Additionally, five Bechstein’s bat were captured, two of which were female and one of which was lactating. However, the lactating female Bechstein’s bat was caught prior to the licence amendment and as such could not be tagged.
Three bats in total were successfully tagged, which included two adult female barbastelle bat, one non-breeding and one lactating, and one juvenile female Bechstein’s bat.
In total, four roosting sites were confirmed, one of these was associated with barbastelle bat and three were associated with Bechstein’s bat.
Read the full report here.
Over Summer 2023, the QLPS team will continue to monitor bat calls using static detectors at 120 locations across the hills. This will give us a broad picture of barbastelle activity across the Quantocks as well as identify some important flight paths between the larger woodland habitats.