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A Look At Bats In Winter
Diane Wood, Wildlife Correspondent
Hibernating bats. Photo by Robert Bell
I am thrilled to be writing my first column for the launch of the new Nature page in the Yorkshire Times.

A brief introduction to myself…..

Currently, I work as a Principal Ecologist with a multi-national engineering and environmental consultancy. As such, I have years of experience in surveying and designing mitigation for protected species in the UK, prior to their habitats being developed upon. I am also on the committee of West Yorkshire Bat Group and regularly volunteer in their activities. I rescue and rehabilitate grounded and injured bats and I am a Voluntary Bat Roost Visitor for Natural England.

Now on to the wildlife, with a bit about bats…..

Bats are amazing creatures that have been around for about 52 million years. They are the only mammals that have evolved to fly and echo-locate.

There are 18 species in the UK (17 of those breeding) with 10 species that can be found in Yorkshire. All bat species in the UK are nocturnal and insectivorous and they are protected by EU law (at the time this was written anyway) and UK law.

Bats roost (they don’t have nests) in trees, buildings, bridges, underground caves or mines where they sleep and bring up their young.

They change roost sites often throughout the year, as their requirements for temperature and humidity inside a roost vary both with the external weather conditions and the bats’ activity levels.

West Yorkshire Bat Group

February is a quiet time for a bat surveyor. UK bats spend most of the winter hibernating and by this time of year they have little fat reserves left to live off. They will only venture out of their winter roosts (hibernacula) on occasional warmer nights to find food and water.

Also by Diane Wood...
Preparing For The Water Voles
Bats are particularly sensitive and susceptible to disturbance when in their hibernation state, so surveying is kept to a minimum and has to be done under a licence.

Hibernacula are a lot harder to find than summer roosts because in winter bats prefer to be in deeper, sheltered places where no wind or rain can enter. Bats require a constant temperature and level of humidity so they do not desiccate.

West Yorkshire Bat Group members undertook a hibernation survey at Harewood Estate at the end of January. Hibernacula at Harewood were known to the group from a previous survey five years ago, so the survey was an update to check if the bats and the hibernacula were still there.

The group used endoscopes to survey deep crevices in-between stonework and were delighted to find three pipistrelle bats and two brown long-eared bats.

The bat group has other events coming up in February, including some training days for surveyors and indoor talks and presentations if you are not keen on the outdoors.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about conserving bats or wishes to volunteer, visit:

West Yorkshire Bat Group website at: http://www.westyorkshirebats.org.uk/

South Yorkshire Bat Group at: https://www.sybatgroup.org.uk/

A Look At Bats In Winter, 11th February 2019, 16:37 PM