South Lancs Bat Group have responsibility for monitoring local bat hibernation sites on behalf of the National Bat Monitoring Programme run by Bat Conservation Trust. We visit each site two, preferably three times over the winter and count the bats present. Our data contribute to long-term datasets on the abundance and distribution of bats in the UK.
This all sounds very official and scientific, but basically if you think squeezing into a muddy hole with a torch and having a good look round is a good day out, bat hibernation surveys are for you 🙂We began by splitting into two groups at the first site. The first group went off to clamber into a muddy crack and my group was tasked with surveying an old stone building. Clearly I was not on good form that day, as I failed to spot a bat in the ceiling 😦 Luckily another member of the group was awake and pointed it out to me. In fact, there were two bats in the building, both brown long-eared. The second group also found two bats – we subsequently found three more in another part of the site so that was not a bad morning out, all told.
The original plan was to head up to a large mine site on the other side of Darwen for the afternoon, but by this time it was snowing heavily. The road seemed clear, so we set off, but it soon became obvious that it was not going to be possible to reach the second site safely. As soon as the road climbed out of Darwen, cars were sliding all over the place and we decided to go home. Luckily the second site had already been surveyed twice that winter so we already had enough data to contribute to the NMBP.
If you feel you are not getting muddy enough in your life, or you need an excuse to buy a caving suit, I highly recommend joining your local bat group and getting involved in hibernation surveys 😉