Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Norfolk Bat Survey

Common pipistrelle sonogram
(from the Norfolk Bat Survey)
I found out about this project through BBC Wildlife Magazine, and I'm very glad I did. The Norfolk Bat Survey is a project that was started in April 2013. It allows volunteers to sign up to their choice of 1 km square anywhere in Norfolk, and they commit to placing out a bat detector for three nights in three different locations within their square. In 2013, 352 people in all took part in the survey; these volunteers surveyed 448 1 km squares and submitted over 250, 000 recordings (Newson et al. 2014). This type of 'citizen science' is really important in raising the awareness and involvement of the community, and it also allows a much larger amount of data to be collected within a given time frame.

Soprano pipistrelle
(from the Norfolk Bat Survey)
I didn't participate last year, but very much enjoyed it this year. I completed the survey in the first week of June, and chose the 1 km square which encompasses where I live. The results from my square were as follows:

Monday 2nd June 2014
490 Common pipistrelle
7 Soprano pipistrelle
2 Noctule

Tuesday 3rd June 2014
33 Common pipistrelle
4 Soprano pipistrelle
(from the Norfolk Bat Survey)

Thursday 5th June 2013
3 Common pipistrelle
1 Soprano pipistrelle

Considering that the first set of results were literally from right outside my window, it gives me a much greater insight into what bats have been visiting. I had my suspicions that some were pipistrelles, but had no idea what the larger bats were. When I listened back to some of the recordings, the Noctule sounded particularly odd compared to the other recordings; much richer and deeper. Stuart from the Norfolk Bat Survey helpfully included some example sonograms of the three species that were detected, as shown above, when I was sent the results for my patch. He also said there has been a much wider uptake of the survey this year, with over 700 volunteers so far this season and over 100, 000 recordings analysed. However, there has been a much greater uptake in some areas than others, so they are looking for more volunteers to cover more of the county. If you would like to get involved, the project runs until the end of September, and you can sign up here: !

Not only did this survey give me a valuable insight into the bats where I live, it was also some kind of small personal triumph. After finishing my BSc Ecology (Hons.), I decided to pursue a career in teaching rather than science. Projects like this make me feel as though I can still take part in 'proper science', even though I chose not to follow that career path, and is something I can value not only for myself, but can also share with my pupils and encourage them to get involved too.

Newson et al. (2014) Bat monitoring: a novel approach.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool, with the white nosed syndrome decimating north American bats I expect to see considerable more research soon. Great article, Thanks for sharing.