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Bats need your help as numbers decline

PUBLISHED: 09:09 08 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:09 08 April 2015

Serotine bat. Pic by Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust

Serotine bat. Pic by Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust

Hugh Clark / Bat Conservation Trust

They come with a fearsome reputation and are synonymous with vampires. But the humble bat is in decline and needs our help.

Bat species in the UK

There are 18 species of bat in the UK, 17 of which are known to be breeding in the country. These include:

Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) - a rare species, there are only an estimated 5,000 of them. The medium-sized bat, which has a distinctive pug-shaped nose, is found mainly in southern and central England and Wales.

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) - one of the UK’s the most common bats with an estimated population of 2.43m. The small mammal is found in a wide range of habitats including farmland, woodlands and suburban and urban habitats across the UK.

Noctule (Nyctalus noctula) - one of the UK’s largest bats growing between 37 to 48mm. It often emerges early in the evening, before sunset and can fly at 31mph.

Serotine (Eptesicus serotinus) - this uncommon bat (around 5,000 in population) is mainly found in this region and the South of the country. They roost mainly in buildings with high gables and cavity walls and are often seen feeding around street lamps.

Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) - found throughout the country, it flies and forages just above water, using its large feet to trawl for insects from the water surface. And can fly at speeds of up to 15mph.

Due to a wide range of factors including loss of habitat, severing of bat commuting routes by roads and chemical treatments of building materials, the population of the UK bat species has decreased considerably over the last 100 years.

To help conserve the bat species found in this region, the Norfolk Bat Survey are asking for you to help collect information on which bat species are present in areas across Norfolk and Suffolk.

People can volunteer to put out automated bat detectors – available at County Hall, Hethersett Library and the Wheatfen Nature Reserve in Surlingham- to record the presence and activity of bats via sound.

There will be devices situated at 20 other locations across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dr Stuart Newson, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) senior research ecologist, said: “It is really exciting to have an opportunity to work in partnership with local bat groups, local and national organisations and local libraries, to improve our understanding of bats in Norfolk and in neighbouring parts of Suffolk.”

The mammals, often seen as blood sucking creatures, play an important role in many environments around the world with more than 500 plant species relying on the creatures to pollinate their flowers, including species of banana and cocoa.

This will be the third year the survey has taken place and over the past two years around 15pc of Norfolk has been surveyed and more than 600,000 recordings of bats taken. It is hoped over time a number of the population of bats in the region can be identified.

For more information on how to take part, visit http://www.batsurvey.org/sign-up/

Have you got a nature story? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk

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