National Bat Monitoring Programme: Volunteering opportunities at the forefront of Bat conservation in the UK

Daubenton's Bat (J Kaczanow/Bat Conservation Trust)

British Bats need help. Populations of these fascinating creatures of myth and legend have crashed in this country and around the world over the last century. In this country we are fortunate that all British bats are protected by law. However, this alone is not enough.

To help them to recover we need to be able to put conservation action in place, ensuring that the right conditions exist for their numbers to increase. To be able to conserve for them we need to understand and monitor their progress. We can only do this with your help.

The National Bat Monitoring Programme is a series of long term monitoring surveys led by the Bat Conservation Trust and carried out entirely by volunteer effort. You don't need to be a bat expert or have fancy equipment and in fact for some of the surveys you don't even need to identify any of them!

Training is run throughout the year by the Bat Conservation Trust and also local bat groups including the Merseyside & West Lancashire Bat Group and South Lancashire Bat Group. By registering with the BCT you'll also get a full survey pack and instructions.

It really is a great way to make a long lasting and high impact contribution to Bat conservation in the UK while also discovering and learning about these incredible animals.

The Surveys;

There are a variety of surveys depending on your experience and the amount of time you can put in. Full information on each is available on the Bat Conservation trust website. http://nbmp.bats.org.uk/Surveys.aspx

If you would like more information or to register as a volunteer on any of the surveys then contact nbmp@bats.org.uk and also let us know, we may be able to help with resources or training (ben.deed@merseysidebiobank.org.uk).

Sunset/Sunrise Survey

By taking part in the Sunset/Sunrise Survey you can find out about your local bats and help us find new bat roosts. Anyone can take part in this survey by looking for bats and their roosts in your garden or local green space. This survey takes place annually and this year you can take part anytime throughout June, July and August.

This survey is aimed at beginners and you don’t need any previous bat experience to take part. It is an excellent way of contributing to the monitoring programme if you are new to bat surveying.

Roost Count

If you have bats in your property then you can help us by taking part in the Roost Counts. You count the numbers of bats emerging from roosts at sunset on two evenings during the summer survey period. The species we focus on are Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, Natterer's bat and brown long-eared bat

You choose your own roost, so you will need to know of a roost site that you can count (usually in a building) to take part in this survey.

Field Survey

Use your knowledge of bat detecting by taking part in the Field Survey. For this survey, you are asked to design and walk a triangular route in a 1km square that we randomly allocate to you on two evenings in July. You will use a bat detector to record Noctule, Serotine, Common Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle bat activity (species you may encounter depends on where you live in the UK).

You will need a bat detector to take part in this survey. You will also need to have some experience of how to identify common British bat species using your bat detector.

Waterway Survey

Help us find out how Daubenton’s bat populations are doing by taking part in the Waterway Survey. For this survey, you walk a route along a 1km stretch of water randomly allocated to you (this will always be close to where you live) on two evenings during August. You record Daubenton’s bat activity using a bat detector to listen to the bats and a torch to spot them flying over the water.

You will need a bat detector and a torch to take part. You will also need some experience of listening for Daubenton’s bats using your bat detector.

Nathusius' Pipistrelle Survey

This survey is aimed at improving our knowledge of the distribution of Nathusius’ Pipistrelle. You will walk a 1km route around a lake that is allocated to you on two evenings in September. Ideally, you will use a broadband bat detector to make recordings of bat activity and listen for Nathusius’ Pipistrelles.

You will need a bat detector (preferably a broadband detector) to take part.

Hibernation Survey

Bats are monitored over the winter months through our Hibernation Surveys. In this survey, experienced bat workers count bats in hibernation roosts in January and February each year.

To take part in this survey you need to hold a hibernation licence or know of a licensed surveyor who can accompany you.