BLAGDON LAKE BIRDS

Bat News

An occasional blog of 'batty' things (mainly) at the lake


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Wednesday 18th October 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

It was a damp old autumnal day, and not one I'd normally choose for checking bat boxes, but we decided to go ahead as we were being joined by Charlene Davies, Jo Lewis, and Hannah Whitfield. The exciting news was that we found 4 Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubenontii in a box for the first time, alongside a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus. We also found bat droppings in a box that hasn't shown any sign of previous occupation, bringing the total to 81% of boxes used at Blagdon since I took on the scheme (11 checks ago).

Friday 13th October 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

It wasn't an entirely auspicious date for us to be out trapping, but with Daniel Hargreaves and Manuel Piniero joining seven regulars, we had four traps and lures running from just after dusk to 0330 hrs when we packed up. We caught:

Manuel was hoping to see his first Nathusius' Pipistrelle, because he wants to start his own project working with them in north-west Spain, and although he had to wait until 0120 hrs for the first, happily, we were able to show him one in the hand for the first time.

Saturday 7th October 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Portbury Nature Reserve, North Somerset.]

This trapping session was long in the planning (over a year), but we finally had a super evening to try and catch some migrating Nathusius' pipistrelles along the Somerset coast. Unfortunately, one of our four lures let us down due to a faulty cable, but we stayed most of the night, until 0400 hrs, running three harp traps and lures plus a single trap without a lure. Ten hopeful bat workers and site manager, Iain Macfarlane, enjoyed a chinese takeaway as we waited for the bats to drop in the traps, and we waited and waited but it was to turn out to be one of those nights... we caught just six bats, and four of those came in the wee small hours after most had gone home:

Iain made us most welcome, and we hope to go back and try again next year. We will check and maintain the site bat boxes for him in the meantime. We might also help put up a few more bat boxes, if the funds can be found.

Friday 29th September 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, NT Little Sea, Studland, Dorset.]

Ken Anstey drove Sam Olney, Mark Hynam and I down to Dorset early this afternoon so that we could have another good look at Little Sea for new trapping sites, and to meet Nick Tomlinson and his Dorset Bat Group crew. This weekend was designated by Daniel Hargreaves as the first of two when the national project teams would trap at eastern and southern coastal sites, from Northumberland to Dorset, with a view to intercepting migrating Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii that have crossed the North Sea. Our little group ran 2 traps and lures, and the Dorset group used 3 traps and a net with lures. Unfortunately (or not for us), our lures packed up between 0330 and 0400hrs, and we packed up just as it started spitting with rain. Nick elected to continue, so we went over to see them before leaving and wish them well, when the heavens opened - they got soaked as they packed up their gear. Nevertheless, it had been quite a successful evening, fish n chips included, and we caught 9 Nathusius' Pipistrelles, about half of which were ♀♀. Other species caught included Soprano Pipistrelles P. pygmaeus, Whiskered Myotis mystacinus, Bechstein's M. bechsteinii, and a Natterer's M. nattereri.

Ken and I each did some investigations into why our lure batteries hadn't lasted the night and found out that mine hadn't been set to airplane mode with battery saver on, and Ken's didn't have battery saver mode set either. What a daft mistake, although we didn't lose too much valuable trapping time as it turned out. We're looking at ways of waterproofing the lure set up to prevent damage that might be caused by the sudden onset of heavy rain, like we experienced last night.

Saturday 23rd September 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, NT Little Sea, Studland, Dorset.]

Nick Tomlinson, Daniel Hargreaves, Pete Banfield, Ken Anstey, Mark Hynam and I ran up to 7 harp traps and some nets with lures, with the agreement of the National Trust. Our aim was to catch Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii, of course, but by 0030 hrs we'd only caught 4 bats of 4 species. The team on the east side of the lake packed up, so Nick and Daniel joined us on the west side where we concentrated on our 3 traps and Daniel put up a short 6m net at the water's edge because all the activity seemed to be on our side of the lake - mostly Soprano Pipistrelles P. pygmaeus and Common Pipistrelles P. pipistrellus, the Soprano's of which were doing an extraordinary amount of social calling/advertising. Nick has the catch sheets at present, but we caught one each of Soprano and Common Pipistrelles, Whiskered Myotis mystacinus, and Natterer's M. nattereri. Then as the night wore on, we started to catch again, and added Daubenton's M. daubentonii, Bechstein's M. bechsteinii, Brown Long-eared Plecotus auritus, a Grey Long-eared  P. austriacus (that I was given to process - my first, and the first I've ever seen alive), and then just as morning light started to spread we caught a Nathusius' Pipistrelle - the first to be ringed in Dorset I'm told. An amazing night that started slowly and left some very tired batters very happy. It was a privilege to add new records to this wonderful site, and thanks to the National Trust for allowing us to visit.

Sunday 17th September 2017[National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Litton Lower Reservoir.]

After Friday night's lack of bats, I was a bit apprehensive about how we'd get on this evening, but with 3 traps and lures plus a net we had the most amazing session. Daniel Hargreaves, Mark Hynam, Philippa Paget and I caught 79 bats of 5 species, including our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii at the site. I was also able to show Daniel and Philippa a roosting Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros before we started as well. Catch details:

There is a sizeable Soprano Pipistrelle roost by the lake and this, no doubt, accounted for most of the total, but it was great to finally catch a Nathusius' Pipistrelle here and allow us to hope that the species may be sharing the Soprano roost.

Friday 15th September 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We had a bumper group of bat workers out on this evenings session, and were joined by Nick Tomlinson from Dorset Bat Group as they start their involvement with the NNPP. We had a total of 7 harp traps and lures deployed along the North Shore but what a disappointment it turned out to be in many ways. We caught just 9 bats, but the saving grace was a non-parous ♀ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii that caused great excitement. She only weighed 7.6 grams, and given the weather forecast Daniel decided not to fit her with a radio tag. We packed up at 0030 hrs when it was really damp and cold (autumn is here) not long after a Greater Horseshoe Rhinolophus ferrumequinum had found its way into a trap at Indian Country pines:

I can't be too unhappy because Georgie Hayworth and I had also found a ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle during bat box checks earlier in the afternoon. He was ringed, as it turned out, on 24th September 2011 when we were trapping along Butcombe Bank. I wonder where he's been in the interim period, because we haven't seen him since then? Georgie also checked the bats emerging from a 2F DFP box we'd opened during the afternoon, that appeared to be full of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus - she counted 29 out!

Friday 8th September 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Chris Barrington, Mark Hynam, John Daw, Philippa Paget, Georgie Hayworth, Bindi, Phillip Delve and myself trapped this evening along Woodford Bank/Villice Bay where we found some shelter from the strong breeze (that dropped significantly after dark). We caught:

Sadly, no Nathusius' Pipistrelles!

Wednesday 6th September 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked the bat boxes at Chew today and found 58 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 19 of the boxes, and more excitingly a ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii with ring H8792 that we put on him a month ago, when we found him in another box about 100 metres away. We've had 67% of the 52 boxes used so far this year, and over 80% used since they were put up.

Wednesday 30th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

The plan had been to trap at a new site this evening, but it fell through, so Ken Anstey and I decided to run a short sesion along Butcombe Bank with trainees Georgie Hayworth and Nye Morris (his first handling experience). It was an amazing 3 hours or so because we caught 37 bats of 7 species with just 2 harp traps and AT100 lures:

Sunday 27th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Litton Lower Reservoir.]

Ken Anstey, Mark Hynam, Jane Cole and I ran 2 harp traps and lures this evening, the third time we've trapped here (previously twice in Aug. 2015), and had a good evening but failed to catch any Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii. We found a roosting Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros, and caught:

Ken and Mark both had their detectors running at our processing point and recorded probable Nathusius' passes tonight, so maybe it just requires more trapping effort to crack the site. We plan to come back here again during the autumn, so it'll be interesting to see if we catch any of our target species later in the year when migrants have arrived.

Friday 25th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Sam Olney, Jane Cole, Mark Hynam, Megan Mehnert, Doreen Henderson and I trapped at Bell's Bush and Flower Corner from 2050 - 0245 hrs on a still, warm night. It was a good evening with a fair selection of bats:

The recapture was exciting. We ringed it last year when trapping around the Fishing Lodge. Nearly all the bats except the recaptured Nathusius' Pip. and the Noctule were caught in a trap placed under a Willow tree at Flower Corner - a new trapping position. Oh, I nearly forgot, Mark recorded several Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros passes at our processing point by the anglers shelter at Bell's Bush too.

Patty Briggs trapped at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth, last night and caught a ♂ Nathusius' Pipstrelle that had been ringed in Latvia. Moreover, it was the first outing their group had carried out since joining the project! I spent an evening trapping with Patty at her local site near Heathrow earlier this year, where she has a box scheme that is well used by Nathusius' Pipistrelles, and where she has been ringing them for some time. There's so much to learn...

Saturday 19th August 2017 [Bat trapping, RSPB Newport Wetlands.]

Mark Hynam and I met up with locals Stephen Davison, Linda Kergon, and Steve Wadley to trap at RSPB Newport Wetlands hoping to catch Nathusius' Pipistrelles and help add to the site bat list. We had a breezy welcome on the estuary, but as darkness fell the wind did too and we enjoyed quite a nice evening trapping from dusk until 0200 hrs. There were quite a few bats, mainly Common Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Soprano Pipistrelles P. pygmaeus flying around in the lee of the woodland at the east end of the reserve. We also recorded Noctule Nyctalus noctula and probable Nathusius' Pipistrelles P. nathusii, but they all proved to be extremely difficult to trap. Luckily, just before a group who were on an escorted bat walk as part of an organised bat and moth evening came past, Steve removed a Soprano Pipistrelle from the net. Stephen was able to show the group the bat in the hand and answer their questions before releasing it. However, it was a long time before a trap placed out in the reeds scored two more bats, ♂ & ♀ Whiskered Myotis mystacinus, which Stephen thought might be a new species for the site list. And, that was it, no more bats!

Friday 18th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Shapwick Heath NNR.]

Daniel Hargreaves, Sally-Ann Hurry & Roger Jones from Sussex, Mark Hynam, Phillip Delve, Claire Smith and I managed to get between 2-3 hours of trapping done before the heavens opened and we had to scurry around taking traps down. Not before we'd enjoyed some of the most amazing chocolate birthday cake in honour of Sally-Ann's birthday though! We ran 2 harp traps with lures and 3 nets also with lures and caught 22 (8♂ & 14♀) Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, 2 (1♂ & 1♀) Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii, and Mark recorded Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros and Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes at our processing station along the track to Decoy Hide.

Saturday 12th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Daniel Hargreaves, Ken Anstey, Claire Collings, Mark Hynam and I ran a net and 5 harp traps with lures along Woodford Bank into Villice Bay. We stayed out all night, finally packing up at 0400hrs as the first light appeared in the eastern sky. We caught an amazing 58 bats of 6 species as follows:

Where are those female Nathusius' Pipistrelles?

Wednesday 9th August 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I did the box checks today, accompanied by John Mason who was there to collect used bird nests and bat droppings being cleared out of the boxes to find parasites etc. Although it was wet until lunchtime, we had an enjoyable day finding Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 17 of 53 boxes, with 3 of the boxes being used for the first time, including the 1FW hibernation box we put up on 8th June. There were Bat Bugs Cimex pipistrelli in the 1-2 cm of droppings that had already accumulated in it, and when we looked in the original 1FW there were still a few bats inside with droppings right up to the entrance! During the rain in the morning, we found our social group of Natterer's Myotis nattereri, so went back when the sun had come out to check them. There were nine in the box, and two of them were ringed, ♀ A4643 ringed on 7th May 2011, and ♀ A7370 ringed on 21st July 2012. It looks like they have had a successful breeding season this year. Four boxes had active European Hornet Vespa crabro nests in them!

Having not finished checking all the boxes at Chew last week, we went back to Nunnery to complete those, but have yet to do Sutton Wick because we ran out of daylight. Hopefully, we'll find time on Saturday before we run our next trapping session at Chew.

Saturday 5th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Shapwick NNR.]

Surprisingly, there weren't many takers for a trapping session at Shapwick, but Daniel Hargreaves, Hannah Bates, Mark Hynam, my sister Harriet, and I had a great evening using 3 nets and a harp trap along the Decoy hide track. We caught:

We had an unusual opportunity to compare the morphology of Brandt's and Whiskered in the hand, and all 3 Pipistrelle species side by side as well. And, I must compliment Hannah Bates on an outstanding Mocha cake.

Friday 4th August 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

A large group of optimistic bat workers met at the lake this evening to run 5 harp traps and 2 nets between the dam and Home Bay Point. However, as has been recorded widely elsewhere on the bat forums, the bats have been extremely unpredictable this weekend - perhaps due to their moving roosts post-breeding, and Myotis spp. going to swarming sites. Anyway, to sum up we only caught a few bats:

Wednesday 2nd August 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Hannah Bates, Stephanie, Dani Smith, me and my sister spent a damp day checking boxes and found our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathsuii in a box at Chew. It was a curious bat that didn't appear to have the 'correct' wing venation, though fitted the identity in most other respects. We didn't have time to check all the boxes, despite starting at 0930 hrs and finishing at nearly 1900 hrs, and will have to finish them off in the coming few days. We found 19 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, including one with a badly torn wing that I took home to give to our bat carer. However, while trying to feed and water it, it took a prolonged and extremely agile flight around our lounge, which led to me to conclude it would be able to forage for itself okay, so we took it back and popped it into the box. It'll be interesting to see if we find it on the next round of box checks.

Sunday 30th July 2017[National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Our first autumn trapping session at Chew Valley Lake was postponed twice due to inclement (changeable) weather and by Sunday we decided to 'go for it' rather than miss the session altogether. We were keen to trap along Woodford Bank but had quite a strong breeze to contend with, which I feel sure suppressed bat foraging activity in that area. Ken Anstey, me, Sam Olney, Mark Hynam and Georgie Hayworth (plus friend) caught just 8 (5♂, 3♀) Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus with two harp traps and lures.

Saturday 22nd July 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Daniel Hargreaves, Chris Barrington, Sam Olney, Mark Hynam, Greg Nightingale and I ran a trapping session with 3 harp traps and lures spread between Orchard Bay and Paradise, and 2 nets at Ash Tree. We were trying to catch a ♀ or juvenile Nathusius' Pipistrelle to radio tag and track, with the aim of finding a local maternity roost. It was an exceptional night as we caught 73 bats of 6 species in under 4 hours (2115-0100 hrs) but, unfortunately, no bats to tag. Details as follows:

Wednesday 28th June 2017 [Lesser Horseshoe Roost Count, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Mark Hynam, Sam Olney and I met at Chew Valley Lake at dusk to carry out a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros roost emergence count. My impression was that the count was about the same as when we last did it on 31st May, suggesting there were no young flying yet. There were 27 bats out by my reckoning.

Monday 26th June 2017 [Bat box roost count, Blagdon Lake.]

Once again, Mark Hynam and I videoed and recorded the emergence from our 1FW hibernation box this evening. After reviewing the pleasing footage, I reckoned there to have been a maximum of 30 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out of the box during our recording period of 90 minutes. However, after noting there was some limited 'swarming' in front of the box last time, it was far more intense on this occasion with lots of coming and going (57 counted out and 37 in). We saw one bat land on the outside of the box and make its way inside, which prompts me to speculate that it might have been a juvenile perhaps. I wonder if the 1FW box was used by the bats to synchronise their birthing period and then most of them moved on either before or after giving birth for the lactation period. With that in mind, I looked into one of our 1FF boxes that has been home to numbers of females and young in the last couple of years, post-parturition, to see if there were any back yet. I only saw 3 bats in there, so I wonder where the bats from 1FW have gone, if indeed they have moved on? I will continue to monitor both boxes through the next month. I also plan to go through the recordings made by Mark when we have time, to see what we have that might help with our understanding of the situation in the box. I didn't see any bats go in or out of the second 1FW hung on the 8th June during the recording period.

Thursday 15th June 2017 [Bat box roost count, Blagdon Lake.]

Mark Hynam and I videod and recorded the emergence from our 1FW hibernation box again this evening and counted a maximum of 88 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out in 90 minutes around dusk. This is significantly down on the 245 counted on 3rd June.

Thursday 8th June 2017 [Bat box scheme, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I collected our spare 1FW hibernation bat box from the bat house this morning and he's done a couple of running repairs during the day. We plan to put it up on an adjacent tree to the box with 245 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in it, as an alternative roost site for when the first box gets filled to the entrance with bat poo! It'll be interesting to see if our strategy works. We've also fitted a foam infill into the top of the removable front panel to deter bats from roosting on top of it where they could potentially get squashed when the box is opened.

Saturday 3rd June 2017 [Bat box roost count, Blagdon Lake.]

We know the Schwegler 1FW hibernation box at Blagdon Lake has been used by Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus for the last couple of summers, possibly as a maternity roost, but I was told on the UK Bat Workers forum that they don't use boxes for giving birth. So, I borrowed some IR lights from Daniel Hargreaves and video'd the emergence this evening with Mark Hynam. We were amazed at the number that came out of the box, so we immediately went back to my house to watch the video on the television and counted an astonishing 245 Soprano Pips. out of the box in 51 minutes. I will video again on a regular basis throughout the birthing period to see what happens. Daniel also suggested it might be worth making a video of dawn swarming post-parturition when the young are on the wing. It rather depends on whether or not the bats will have filled the box to the entrance with their droppings by then, like they did last year. It also begs the question as to whether we ought to put up our other 1FW box (currently unused) nearby. My next session will be to video the emergence from a Schwegler 1FF that has a good group of Soparano's gathering in it pre-parturition - hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday 31st May 2017 [Lesser Horseshoe Roost Count, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Mark Hynam and I carried out a roost count at a Chew Valley Lake site and reckoned there to be 24 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros in the pre-maternity roost. Ken used a night vision scope and I video'd using an IR light, but Mark and I counted manually as well. We came up with about half of Ken's total by naked eye! It'll be interesting to review the video to see how that compares with Ken's count too. We will be checking the roost twice more over the birthing season.

Update on 1st June: after video review, I make the maximum count out of the roost between 2100 - 2230 hrs 25 Lesser Horseshoes - so Ken was pretty accurate, whereas the manual counts were hopelessly inaccurate.

I plan to check some boxes that have Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in them at Blagdon Lake during the birthing season, as I've been told they don't give birth in boxes. But, I think they probably do.

Sunday 28th May 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Shapwick NNR, Somerset.]

Having driven back from Cornwall this morning and grabbed some sleep, Ken Anstey and I joined Daniel and Heidi Hargreaves to look for suitable trapping spots at Shapwick NNR around Decoy and Canada Farm Lakes. We didn't find any really suitable gaps for using harp traps, but as several Somerset Bat Group members had taken the trouble to come out, despite the weather forecast, we decided to go ahead. Daniel set some nets at Decoy Lake with a lure, and Ken, Mark Hynam and I ran a harp trap and lure at Canada Lake. The harp trap attracted 3 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii, but the other group fared much better and caught, among others, 3♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii. A fantastic result in the short time we had before the rain set in again at around 2320 hrs.

One of the ♀ Daubenton's caught by Daniels group was apparently lactating, so that'll be the end of trapping until after the bats have given birth and weaned their young towards the end of July.

Saturday 27th May 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Argal Reservoir, Cornwall.]

Daniel Hargreaves and I trapped with Cornwall Bat Group this evening, with 5 harp traps and lures. We caught 4 (3, 1♀) Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus Nathusius, which made for a very happy Samantha Smith! We kept going until 0400 hrs before packing up.

Wednesday 24th May 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Sam Olney, Georgie Hayworth, Mark Hynam, Doreen Henderson and Kiri Green met to trap on Butcombe Bank this evening. We had a fabulous trapping session in perfect, warm, still, conditions. Just after everyone except Sam, Ken and I had gone, our very next round of the traps brought us a ♂ Noctule which managed to ping one of the strings in the central row of my 3-bank harp trap, and we just kept catching bats until dawn, when we were treated to great views of the foraging bats flying around us before we all went to roost! At dusk we had a couple of Soprano Pipistrelles chasing each other overhead and giving their classic social calls, which was a bonus as well. At first light the rush of bats to my trap culminated in a ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle that had been ringed. I expected it to be one from earlier in the evening, but it turned out to be one Daniel Hargreaves had ringed in the same place on 11th May 2013. Great news! Total catch for the night was:

During the night we recorded Serotine and Lesser Horseshoe bats on the detectors as well as unidentified Myotis sp.

Saturday 13th May 2017 [A day in the woods & tying the knot]

We spent a wonderful day in the woods with Daniel and Heidi Hargreaves, starting at 0600 hrs for a bird walk, and finishing with the ceremony of 'Tying the Knot' (highly-charged & VERY emotional), a ceilidh, then finally a bat walk and trapping (one each of Whiskered & Brown Long-eared were caught).

Heidi & Daniel Hargreaves © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Jim & Laura with the green cord, Jude & Bob with the white cord (top), Steve & Fi with the blue cord (bottom) © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

The Speeches © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Among the Bluebells © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Sartorial Scot Keith & Dani © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Friday 12th May 2017 [Wedding of Heidi Cooper-Berry & Daniel Hargreaves]

This evening Daniel and Heidi were officially married in Wilderness Wood at Hadlow Down, East Sussex. Ce and I were privileged to be among family, friends and bat workers, to bear witness as Heidi finally got her man after 10 years! Unsurprisingly, we even had a Common Pipistrelle flying over the woodland clearing too!

Daniel Hargreaves & family © Nigel Milbourne, 2017

Tuesday 9th May 2017 [Bat training course, Blagdon Lake]

Chris Barrington and I joined Sandie Sowler and Richard Crompton when they came to the lake to run a trapping session for their trainees this evening. We ran two harp traps with lures, another harp trap without a lure, a triple high and two 6m nets. Amazingly, we caught no bats in the nets at all! Although we tried to hide them, the bright moon may have been a factor. We did, however, catch 6 bats of 4 species:

Most of the Nathsusius' we've caught in the last week or two only weighed between 6-7 grams, which is quite light, especially for females in the early stages of pregnancy. Although, it's been cool, there's been no shortage of midges around the lake for them to feed on.

Sunday 7th May 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Sam Olney, Hannah Bates and I checked the boxes at Chew today. We found 11 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. There were a number of boxes that apparently contained droppings of Myotis/Plecotus spp. but we didn't find any of them at home. We used the opportunity to show a few of the Sunday walkers some of the bats we were processing - a good PR opportunity. One of the boxes had been used for the first time since we put them up, which makes it in excess of 75% usage across the scheme now.

Also noted were four Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus nests with birds sitting, a Marsh Tit Poecile palustris nest with 9 eggs, and one freshly dead Blue Tit in a box on its own with an engorged Ixodes sp. tick on it, that had been ringed at Chew Valley Ringing Station by Chris Craig in 2014 at a nest box near Stratford hide.

Friday 5th May 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We decided to go ahead with our trapping session this evening despite the very strong ENE wind which made trap placement difficult. The team included Ken Anstey, Doreen Henderson, Sam Olney, Mark Hynam and Phillip Delve. We eventually, decided to use two new positions near to the lodge, sheltered by trees, and were rewarded with a ♀ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii within an hour of turning the lures on. What was always going to be a difficult evening, given the conditions, turned out out quite well because we caught all three species of Pipistrelle, which gave trainees Sam and Mark the opportunity to look carefully at the suite of identification features used to separate them - often a puzzle to more experienced handlers! We also took the opportunity to look closely at a preserved bat given to me by Kiri Green and Stew Rowden for ID confirmation. It was, as they thought, a Nathusius' Pipistrelle brought in from Kingswood in Bristol, so worthy of further investigation by the ABG Nathusius Project team. We packed in at 0045 hrs although bats were still being caught, and the final tally was:

Friday 5th May 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Sam Olney and I checked the boxes today (bar the Hibernation box). We found the regular group of ♀♀ Natterer's Myotis nattereri, 15 in total, with 5 ringed individuals among them:

We also saw one 1FF box with at least 22 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus but didn't take them out, and at least 39 in total.

Saturday 29th April 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

A small group gathered at Wick Green to run four traps and lures in the lee of the wood. Three were near the waterside and one was placed in the woodland itself. We caught:

The Nathusius' Pip. didn't come in until 0030 hrs and the Lesser Horseshoe was the last bat at 0208 hrs. Thanks to Ken Anstey, Daniel Hargreaves, John Daw, Doreen Henderson, Peter Gulliver and Liz, & Mark Hynam who has started his course of vaccinations in order to start training with us. Welcome to the 'Dark Side' Mark!

Saturday 29th April 2017 [Somerset Bat Group AGM]

Our short AGM was followed with discussion about new projects, which will include some Nathusius Trapping on the Somerset Levels when we can arrange it. Jim gave his talk at this meeting too, but with Daniel and Henry Andrews present we had some stimulating discussion about tree roosts - I must have a look at some around Blagdon.

Wednesday 26th April 2017 [Avon Bat Group AGM]

A short meeting was followed by a very interesting talk by Jim Mulholland on his tree roost work at Tortworth, S. Glos. and in Wiltshire.

Saturday 22nd April 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project]

A small group of ABG members went up to Upshire Village Hall, Waltham Abbey, and enjoyed an excellent mini-conference and training day, at which all the current groups gave a report on their work and we agreed what the project will do next. Then, in the evening, we split into various groups and spread out around London to trap. Some of our group joined Ross and Lynn from Surrey BG, Patty Briggs and her team from Bedfont Lakes NR (our host) and Sam Smith chair of Cornwall BG. We caught 1♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii.

Monday 17th April 2017 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

Tonight's bat transect took me along the North Shore and there was barely any time throughout the whole walk of some 40 minutes that I wasn't recording Noctule Nyctalus noctula bats above me. I have yet to analyze the recordings, and will report here when I have, but I know I recorded quite a few Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes.

Sunday 16th April 2017 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

The team tonight was Daniel Hargreaves, Ken Anstey, Mark Hynam (observing), Doreen Henderson (scribing) and myself. We ran 5 harp traps with lures and caught:

It remained a fairly constant 12 Celsius throughout the session from 2040-0240 hrs when we started packing up. The bat foraging activity seemed to quieten down at around 0130 hrs and we caught nothing after 0040 hrs even though the wind died away to a light breeze at <1m/s (2 mph). Presumably, feeding had been good up to that point and the bats were able to retire to their roosts. Ken caught 2 Nathusius' with his new AT100 lure on a trap set up in Lodge Copse and the other Nathusius' was caught at one of Daniel's traps in the edge of Pipe Bay copse facing the bat house. I crawled into bed just after 0400 hrs!

Friday 14th April 2017 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

As I repored in the birding blog, my transect was walked from Ubley Gate entrnace in drizzle that eventually turned to rain as I neared the end at the Fishing Lodge. I recorded Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii at Ubley entrance gate, Holt Bay, Green Lawn, Long Bay and Lodge Copse where I picked up an advertisement call apparently made in flight.

Friday 7th April 2017 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

My transect walk took me from the bridge at the head of Butcombe Bay back to the Fishing Lodge, during which I recorded lots of passes by Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii along Butcombe Bank, especially around half way, over the spillway, at the south end of the dam by the Inspection House and the bat house. Other species were recorded, especially Noctule Nyctalus noctula which seems to be quite abundant at present, and one particularly nice encounter with a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros.

Saturday 25th March 2017 [BCT South West Bat Conference, Petroc College, Tiverton.]

My first BCT conference was a welcome opportunity to catch up with lots of 'batty friends' and enjoy some very interesting presentations on various aspects of bat work being carried out in our area.

Monday 6th March 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked and cleaned all the boxes today, except for the 3 boxes we found 5 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in. We also found what we judged to be recent droppings in a further 6 boxes, one of which hadn't been previously used since we put it up 2 years ago. We now have 75% use since the boxes went up.

Monday 20th February 2017 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Georgie Hayworth and I checked and cleaned all the Schwegler boxes today. We found 5 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 4 boxes with fresh droppings in 2 other boxes. What was worrying was that we found a single Soprano Pip. on top of the door of the 1FW hibernation box. This has happened before, so I was prepared for it and opened it very carefully just in case. As you have to lift the lid to open it, there is the real possibility of squishing any bats on the top while doing it. I'm wondering if this is a design fault or something wrong with this particular box that allows bats to squeeze into the gap above the door from the inside. I'm going to raise this observation on some of the bat social groups to see if anyone has come across the problem as well. We have another 1FW we can put up, but I'm going to hold fire for the time being.

Thursday 8th December 2016 [Scientific Publication]

I got news of a scientific paper entitled "Chromatic disorders in bats: a review of pigmentation anomalies and the misuse of terms to describe them" that was published in Mammal Review Dec. 2016 that has used a couple of my photos to illustrate albinism which is quite gratifying. Thanks to Federica Lucati and Adrià Lopez-Baucells. It has certainly helped my understanding of the many terms used to describe pigmenatation anomalies and will hopefully set the standard going forward.

Monday 5th December 2016 [Talk]

I joined Daniel Hargreaves and Heidi Cooper-Berry on a jaunt to Worcester this evening, where Daniel gave an entertaining and informative talk on Bat Photography to a good-sized audience, that included friends Iain Hysom, Denise Foster and David Lee among others. Daniel spoke of his mentors, their methods and inspiration for using good quality bat photographs to illustrate bat education literature. He then went on to show us some of his quite excellent shots and gave a practical demonstration of his set-up and gave attendees the chance to 'have a play' with his gear to better understand how some of the pictures were achieved. It was a super evening.

Sunday 30th October 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked the boxes for the last time this year and found bats in 14 of the 52 boxes, plus droppings in 2 more boxes. We counted 29 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, 10♀ Natterer's Myotis nattereri, 1 Noctule Nyctalus noctula, and found 2 lone Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros roosting. Three of the Natterer's had been ringed previously with details as follows:

Friday 28th October 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Greg Nightingale and I ran 3 harp traps and lures from 1815 hrs until midnight along the Woodford/Villice Bay bank and caught:

It was a mild evening and there was a lot of activity on the detectors throughout. The real surprise was that we caught all 3 Nathusius' by 2000 hrs (we usually catch them later in the evening) and no Soprano Pipistrelles. That's it for the project work this year, so time to do some analysis now that the clock's have gone back.

Friday 21st October 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We ran 3 harp traps and lures from 1850 hrs until 0130 hrs at Butcombe Bank, Pipe Bay and the Lodge and caught:

We welcomed Samantha Smith, chair of Cornwall Bat Group who are thinking of joining the national project next year, but for the first time this autumn we failed to catch a Nathusius' Pipistrelle to show her. We had a great session though, fuelled by a fish and chip supper, buckets of tea and coffee, and home made cakes and biscuits. Thanks to all the team who came, and everyone who has come out this year to help with the project at Blagdon - we couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday 12th October 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Backwell Lake.]

Our team trapped at Backwell Lake for the first time this evening. It wasn't easy to find suitable sites for the traps, and made all the more difficult by the breeze and streetlighting. However, we ran one trap from 1900-2315 hrs, another from 2000 to 2300 hrs and the third from 2050 to 2250 hrs (mainly due to having insufficient helpers with the early start). There wasn't much bat activity over the lake according to the detectors, and what there was favoured the south side hedgeline and west end, which was a bit more sheltered. One trap actually blew over several times and had to be tied to a tree, but it was that one which finally came up trumps 10 minutes before we'd decided to pack up - a juvenile ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii which we ringed as H8773. He was an excellent weight at 8.0 grams. David Brown and Chris Barrington did some recording and picked up a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros pass which we believe, together with the Nathusius', means we added two new species to the site list (subject to confirmation by BRERC).

Sunday 9th October 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Last night, I did some analysis of the four box checks carried out since we put the boxes up over winter 2014-15 and found that we have recorded bat presence in just shy of 70% of the 52 boxes so far. Our round today added another 2 boxes to that, making the new uptake figure 73%, a remarkable success story by any standard. We found 46 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 19 boxes today, making the uptake rate for this year 65%. Just 21 bats were processed, but the adult ♀♀ were, on the whole, a good weight with a few exceeding 7 grams which suggests feeding has been good this autumn.

Friday 7th October 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Our regular team ran 3 traps and lures around Pipe Bay, The Lodge and Home Bay and caught:

It was a pretty poor return for 7 hours trapping (1900 hrs to 0200 hrs)! We also saw 7 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros night roosting.

Sunday 2nd October 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Our usual team, plus newcomer Penelope Fialas, ran 3 harp traps and lures from 1900 hrs until 2300 hrs in the Chew Valley Ringing Station compound (thanks guys) and enjoyed another successful evening catching:

Saturday 24th September 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Our usual team, plus village newcomer Tom Shelley, Catherine Jones and birder Mark Hynam ran 3 traps and lures around Pipe Bay, The Lodge and Home Bay and caught:

We also saw 4 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros night roosting. There was no real evidence of bats using the bat house since my last check earlier this autumn.

Sunday 18th September 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Georgie Hayworth, Kristy Lee James, Greg Nightingale and Robyn Owen and I checked all bar the hibernation and Kent boxes today. We processed 25 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a single Natterer's Myotis nattereri, and saw another group of around 15 Soprano's that we left in their box, as well as a lone roosting Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros. Thanks to all the team for their help.

Wednesday 14th September 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Kristy Lee James, Georgie Hayworth, Greg Nightingale and I trapped at Sutton Wick, Chew Valley Lake with 3 traps and lures and caught:

Again, we saw a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros night roosting.

After a few early captures it went quiet until around midnight when we had another burst of activity that included the Nathusius' and Serotine.

Saturday 10th September 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

A small group gathered for what was supposed to be a bat and moth trapping evening. However, due to insufficient numbers I decided not to go ahead with the moth trapping, but we did run 3 harp traps and lures at Home Bay, The Fishing Lodge and Pipe Bay in slightly different places to last time. Lures were turned on 2010 hrs and we ran them until 0230 hrs when drizzle forced us to pack up. After the initial surge we had few bats until the moon went down behind the Mendip ridge when we caught some more. The temperature was about 14 Celsius when we started and dropped away to a cool 10 Celsius. We had a poor overall return, but caught 3 new Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii bringing the total to 60 at Blagdon:

We saw 1 Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros night roosting during the evening.

Saturday 27th August 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Our regular group were joined by Phillip Delve this evening and we ran 3 harp traps with lures expecting a bumper catch given the time of year and warm, muggy, weather. Boy were we in for a surprise! We turned the lures on at 2030 hrs and packed up at 0130 hrs having caught just 9 bats. But, what we lacked in quantity was made up by quality... we added 2 new, unringed, Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii to our growing list. Traps were set up at Home Bay Point, The Fishing Lodge and Pipe Bay, with the AT100 lure at the Lodge and all bar 2 bats were caught there, with just one each at the others. So, although it was slow going, the good company and very pleasant evening, 21 Celsius dropping to 18 Celsius by the time left, was well worth the effort and lost hours of sleep! Details:

When checking the trap on Home Bay Point I had a look in the bird hide a couple of times during the evening and saw 2 and 3 Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros bats night roosting (while they rest to digest food). Of course, they go elsewhere to roost by day.

Tuesday 23rd August 2016 [Swarming check]

Ken Anstey and I went to check out one of the Mendip caves this evening to see if we could see any evidence of swarming activity. As expected we saw and recorded a good number of Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros, a few Greater Horseshoes Rhinolophus ferrumequinum and a small amount of Myotis sp. activity. Overall there was more activity than we expected, but fewer Myotis than we'd hoped for. It's possible that swarming may have started after we left site at around 2245 hrs (it's often late at the Wiltshire sites). From the Mendips we popped down to Blagdon Lake to see if there were any ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii advertisement calls being broadcast from the Bat House between 2300 hrs and midnight. It was spookily quiet, although we did record a few Nathusius' flight passes near the dam.

Wednesday 17th August [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey, my sister Ruth, and I checked the bat boxes around the lake. We found surprisingly few bats on this round, just 11 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, although many of the boxes had clearly been used since the last check. Sadly, we found a dead bat in one of the boxes - probably a Soprano Pip.

Saturday 13th August 2016 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Seven of us, including the amazing 90+ year old Doreen Henderson and two visitors from Helsinki, ran three traps and lures at a part of the lake we haven't trapped at before (Rainbow Point, Burmah Road and Bell's Bush) and had a pretty good evening that resulted in us catching a new ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii at Burmah Road. It was pleasing to catch some unringed Natterer's away from the Pumping Station social group too. The catch was as follows:

Sunday 7th August 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Despite a couple of us getting 'nailed' by angry wasps early-on during the box checks (there was a nest in the ground hidden by long grass), we had an enjoyable time and found lots of bats. We found 3 Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus maternity roosts (which we didn't disturb any further), a tree roost feature that will be worth looking at more closely, our regular group of Natterer's Myotis natereri and 20 other Soprano Pipistrelles on their own or in small groups. This round of checks was primarily to clear out the bird nests from the boxes and do some 'gardening' ready for their use in the autumn/winter, but it was pleasing to see the bats back in them after the strangely quiet spring period. All bar two of the boxes were checked, and I can report 44% of boxes have been used so far this year, and that we're up to 62% of the woodcrete boxes used in the 7 rounds of checks since I took over running the scheme.

Ken Anstey, Elizabeth & Chris Barrington processing bats, Blagdon Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Natterer's Bats, Blagdon Lake © Chris Barrington, 2016

Friday 5th August 2016[National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Five intrepid bat workers met at Woodford to run four harp traps and lures along Villice Bay (north side) on a mild evening. It was hard work with lots of walking because the traps have to be at least 200 metres apart in order that the lures are a sufficient distance from one another. By the time we'd put four traps up and I'd returned to the first to set up a lure, there were 11 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in it! This was probably the result of captured bats 'calling' others in with distress calls. We had bats at all traps before the lures were even switched on, so the choice of sites seemed to be okay. As it turned out, we had an excellent evening catching 33 bats of 6 species, culminating in the capture our second Chew Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii at 0100 hrs. After it was ringed and released, we started to pack up and I got to bed at just after 0400 hrs. I think the Serotine was the first 'in-the-hand' record for Chew as well (ref. CVL Birding mammal list). The catch details were as follows:

Friday 1st July 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

I decided to check the Kent Bat Boxes (a licenced activity carried out using a red light) to see if there were any bats in the boxes during the breeding season. Of the 14 boxes, there were just two with single bats in - probably lone ♂ pipistrelles.

I'm also in the throes of putting together an extensive trapping programme for the National Nathusius' Project during the autumn period at Blagdon (plus Chew and Litton), as well as some other waterbodies around the area.

Saturday 4th June 2016 [National Nathusius' Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Finally, Ken Anstey and I caught our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii at Chew Valley Lake, attracted to the new BAT AT100 lure I've bought in from the USA. It's the first since the late Dr. Kate Barlow hand-netted two at Heron's Green in Sept. 1995, although I have seen what we think was one in a bird box run by CVRS, and of course, we also radio-tracked 'Natalie' a ♀ Nathusius' from Blagdon foraging at Chew on several occasions in 2013. Anyway, last night's bat was a ♂ with medium black epididymes, which suggests he was was probably born last year. We ringed him and fur-clipped him for the stable-isotope analysis being carried out by Dr. Fiona Mathews at Exeter University. Then off he went. It's the first time we'd trapped along Woodford Bank/Villice Bay, and we had quite a reasonable catch, no doubt aided by the muggy warm weather and 100% cloud cover:

It was a shame to have to pack up at 0030 hrs, but I had to get back home to feed the two bats I have in care and continue their flying lessons, as part of their rehabilitation.

♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii, Chew Valley Lake © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Saturday 4th June 2016 [Bat Care]

I've had two bats in care for just over a week now, and both are getting on fine. The Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus was taken in by Chris Barrington on 26th May and weighed a mere 4.4 grams. We weighed her again on 2nd June, a week later, and she was a healthy 5.8 grams, though it was hard to say if she was pregnant. She has a broken 5th finger on her left wing but seems to be coping amazingly well and is even making regular short flights of her own volition across the lounge and landing on the curtains.

The other bat, a ♂ Whiskered Myotis mystacinus, hasn't been weighed, he was caught by a cat, so presumably traumatised, and was even more feisty than this species usually is when handled! He has a couple of small holes in his wings which will repair quickly, but also seemed to be favouring his left wing slightly, as if he'd wrenched a joint perhaps? Anyway, he runs around like a good'un, tries to take off vertically with little helicopter jumps (and fails), and is now flying across the room when launched from my hand, though seems less strong than the Pipistrelle. He has calmed down and is happily eating from my fingers, and his appetite is increasing, though curiously he eats less than the smaller bat. He may need to go for flight rehabilitation in the longer term, we'll see. Here's a picture of both taken today:

Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus & Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus both in care © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

Thursday 2nd June 2016 [Bat Box Checks, YACWAG Yatton and Congresbury.]

Ken Anstey and I checked 26 bat boxes in the YACWAG scheme without finding any bats, and only one with any signs of occupancy - droppings, probably from a Pipistrelle sp.

Friday 27th May 2016 [Bat Box Checks Bickley, Conham and Barrow Reservoirs & some Bat Care.]

Lots of boxes checked in three schemes with Ken Anstey today and we only found a single Noctule Nyctalus noctula. Then Chris Barrington asked if I could take two bats he's collected and taken into care.

Friday 20th May 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I finished off the bat box checks at Chew Valley Lake today and were joined by Chris Nason in the morning at Picnic Site No. 1, Denny Woods and Brook Copse, and later by Kristy Lee Kelly and Sarah Dale in the afternoon at Wick Green Copse. It wasn't anywhere near as exciting as Wednesday as we only found:

Since we put the boxes up over the winter of 2014-15, 31 of 52 boxes have been used by bats, 24 in the first year of 2015, and 23 so far in 2016. I think the scheme has started really successfully thanks to the remarkable uptake rate. We need to reflect this with our trapping effort now!

Wednesday 18th May 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I had two young bat workers, Kristy Lee Kelly and Chris Greenland, with us today as we checked the boxes at Chew Valley Lake. Kristy and Chris were improving their handling skills, so we only managed to check 24 of the 52 boxes because we found bats in 11 of them! We recorded:

Monday 16th May 2016 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Chris Barrington, Greg Nightingale and I trapped at Blagdon Lake again this evening, partly to see if we could catch that elusive first Nathusius' of the year, partly to try out my new Binary Acoustic Tech. AT100 acoustic lure (which our technical guru Chris got running), and partly as a demonstration to members of the local Hawk and Owl Trust who came over for a visit. We caught 5♀ Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and packed up at midnight, but what was very interesting was that the capture of four of the bats came almost immediately after we changed from the Sussex Autobat lure we've been using to the new AT100. It's too early to conclude that it's more efficient because one trapped bat may have called the others in, but it was nevertheless encouraging. I have been invited to join Daniel Hargreaves trapping at Rye Harbour and Dungeness this coming weekend, when I will be picking up my new trap. I'm really looking forward to it, and our team will be able to compare the capture rates of the two lure types and 2 and 3-bank harp traps during the rest of the coming season.

Sunday 15th May 2016 [Bat Care]

I took the little bat I've had in care back to Bath where we successfully released him at dusk in Robert Hargreaves' back garden. He did a couple of circuits to get his bearings and say au revoir, then disappeared off high among the trees towards the railway line. Yay!

Saturday 14th May 2016 [Bat Care, Bat Box Checks at Wick, and National Nathusius' Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

It was up early this morning to feed and fly the care bat. He was still recovering well and has groomed himself over the last couple of days so that he looks in good shape, rather than the rather bedraggled little bundle that was brought to me.

Then it was over to Wick on the east side of Bristol to carry out bat box checks with Ken Anstey, Sonia Reali and Philippa Paget. Once again, we found many fewer bats in boxes than we'd expect at this time of year. Eventually, we had 2 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in a regularly inhabited box and a Natterer's Bat Myotis natereri in a box we put up last year.

Back home for tea, say "hello" to Ce, and back out with Ken and Chris Barrington to trap at Chew Valley Lake. We chose Moreton Bank in our quest to catch our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle, but came up short once again. We had a reasonable evening, catching:

For those interested in such things, one of the Daubenton's was BIG and heavily pregnant, weighing a whopping 11.2 grams compared to the other which weighed a mere, by comparison, 7.4 grams.

I got in at 0130 hrs and then set about feeding the care bat again. He ate avidly and spent about 15 minutes flying around the lounge. He had a dose of medicine and was eager to get back into his little hidey-hole in the tank I'm keeping him in. I think he's about ready to go back into the wild - I don't want him held in captivity any longer than is necessary, or to become habituated to handling. I'll weigh him tomorrow and see how much weight he's put on, then give him a close examination to check all is well now that's he's in better shape.

Friday 13th May 2016 [Bat Care]

The Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus in care was alive and well this morning, and as soon as I picked him up he was looking for mealworms in my fingers. He scoffed down 25, took his medicine, had a drink and a good flight around the lounge for a few minutes before I put him back in the tank to rest. Recovery continues apace, and this evening the little bat ate a few meal worms and then took off for 5 minutes circling the lounge. When he landed, I gave him some more food and medicine and let him rest.

Thursday 12th May 2016 [Bat Care]

This morning, Robert Hargreaves popped over from Bath with a bat that had been captured by a cat last night. It's a ♂ Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus that although a little underweight at 4.0 grams, appears to be in reasonable health. He's flying very well (around our kitchen) so hopefully there are no serious injuries. I've given him some water from a pipette and put him in my bat transport tank, and am going to get some mealworms to feed him this evening. I'll also give him a more detailed examination, including ageing, when he's awake. Kiri Green our registered bat carer suggests he has a 5 day antibiotic course before release, just to be sure he's not been infected by a puncture wound (claw) under the fur. Fingers crossed for him to pull through the trauma of being caught, I'm hopeful, then I can take him back to Bath for release on his own patch.

This evening I woke the little guy up at 2200 hrs and warmed him in my hand. He had a drink and a drop of antibiotic, but resolutely refused to eat mini-mealworms that I offered him for about half an hour. Oh dear I thought, then all of a sudden he got the idea and ate 30 before I called a halt! I let him have a fly around the lounge and popped him away to sleep off his meal.

Wednesday 11th May 2016 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Chris Barrington and I ran two harp traps with lures this evening at Blagdon Lake and caught 5 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. Two of them had the wing venation of Common Pipistrelles P. pipistrellus, on both wings, but were clearly Soprano's right down to the smell! This is the first time I've seen this, though we frequently catch bats with the wing venation of Soprano's on one wing and Common on the other, which we laughingly refer to as 'Somerset' bats. Two of the ♀♀ were showing signs of pregnancy and were a good weight. Dr Sandie Sowler and Richard Crompton ran a trap and lure, a triple high net, and a 6 metre net and caught 10 or 11 Soprano Pipistrelles with their students as well.

Sunday 8th May 2016 [Bat Box Checks, YACWAG Littlewood, & National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

I joined Chris Barrington and a small group of YACWAG members checking the boxes at the Littlewood reserve during the day. We found just 4 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

In the evening I'd invited a small group of bat workers to join Chris, Ken and I on our first Nathusius' Project trapping session of the year. We only caught 2♂ Soprano Pipistrelles and a single ♀ Common Pipistrelle P. pipistrellus. Interestingly, the Common Pipistrelle played-dead (a defence mechanism known as akinesis) when she landed in the harp trap, and remained like it throughout processing, but flew off strongly when released. Ken Anstey ran his EM3 detector in front of the Lodge and recorded lots of Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes. Perhaps they were too busy eating, to be concerned with responding to our lures! There were a good number of Noctules Nyctalus noctula feeding around the Lodge and Home Bay as well, before darkness fell.

Saturday 7th May 2016 [Bat Box Checks, AWT Folly Farm.]

I joined Dan Flew at AWT Folly Farm where Ken Anstey and I led one of the two groups of Avon Bat Group members checking the boxes. We found just a single box with bats in it - 23 Brown Long-eareds Plecotus auritus! Dan's team found a box with a large group of Natterer's Myotis natereri in it.

Monday 2nd May 2016 [Bat Detector Walk, Blagdon Lake]

Having found very little in the boxes yesterday, and although there was a cold wind blowing, I walked the south shore this evening carrying my detector and recorded a surprising number of bats in the sheltered areas. Most notable were a series of Nathusius Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii calls around the Long Bay pines and Home Bay/Lodge Copse. Also recorded were Common P. pipistrellus and Soprano Pipistrelles P. pygmaeus, Noctule Nyctalus noctula, Serotine Eptesicus serotinus and Myotis sp.

Sunday 1st May 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

We didn't find many bats during our box checks today, just 2♀ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus females that both weighed 5.2 grams. There was also a box with 10 Natterer's Myotis nattereri in it that we left be. There were some Noctule Nyctalus noctula droppings in one of the boxes and Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros droppings in the bat house. While we were out we saw 2 Hobbies hawking insects over Rugmoor Point and compared the flowering Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids, so it wasn't a bad day. Thanks to the team for your help, especially Bee and Hannah!

Friday 22nd April 2016 [General Conservation Work, Blagdon Lake.]

It was one of those grey, drizzly, afternoons when it would have been easy to sit at home, but Ken Anstey and I got out and did the work on the roost referred to below, because the Lesser Horseshoe that had been roosting there had moved on. We also took the opportunity to re-hang the long-lost 1FF box H in a new spot, as well as put up two Kent boxes (13 and 14) on the bat house.

Wednesday 13th April 2016 [Bat House, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I put up some tiles inside the bat house today and while we were in there we found evidence that a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros had been roosting sometime over the winter period. We also planned to do some work in another potential roost, but were thwarted when we got there to find a torpid Lesser Horseshoe roosting! On a walk beside the lake in the evening, I watched a Noctule Nyctalus noctula foraging, my first of the year, no doubt encouraged to come out by the milder evening.

10th April 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

I carried out my monthly check of the Kent boxes over the weekend and found a total of 5 bats in 3 of the 12 boxes. They were probably all Soprano Pipistrelles, but as I only look up into them with a light, it's hard to be definitive about the identity of the inhabitants. They'll get recorded as "probable Pipistrelle spp." I shall have to give someone the chance to net their emergence to find out - a good opportunity for bat workers trying to get their class licence. I've just written reports on the ABG Nathusius' Project 2015, as well as the Chew Valley, and Blagdon Lake Bat Box Schemes 2015-16 for 'The Natterer', and will put them up on the website at an appropriate time after publication of the newsletter.

15th March 2016 [Hacienda Jacana, Trinidad & Tobago]

Daniel Hargreaves and I used his flash system to photograph bats using a culvert under the drive as a night roost at the Hacienda this evening. Earlier we'd combed the grounds for some invertebrates that Dr Merlin Tuttle will use in his studio. We're expecting the rest of the group to arrive tomorrow, then the work starts in earnest.

Seba's Short-tailed Fruit Bat Carollia perspicillata, Hacienda Jacana © Nigel Milbourne, 2016

2nd March 2016 [Hibernation Checks in Wiltshire]

I joined Fiona Mathews, Dani Linton, Keith Cohen and Ken Anstey in a stone mine counting, checking and ringing bats. We found a cluster of Greater Horseshoes Rhinolophus ferrumequinum which we variously estimated to be 26-42 strong and which finally totalled 117 - ha, ha! In all, we counted 149 Greaters, over 150 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros, a Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii and a Natterer's M. nattereri. It was a busy and successful 8 hours spent underground.

24th February 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Chew Valley Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked and cleaned the Chew Valley bat boxes today, about a year from when they were put up. It was a remarkable day, which started with a bat in the first box we opened! Amazingly, we found 12 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 10 different boxes of the 52 in the scheme. Some of the other boxes had signs of possible use by other species too. Amazingly, and fortuitously, all of the boxes at Blagdon and Chew have come through this rather stormy winter period unscathed thank goodness.

19th February 2016 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked and cleaned the bat boxes today. We had a surprise find of a Noctule Nyctalus noctula and a Pipistrelle (probably a Soprano) Pipistrellus sp. together in one of the 1FF boxes, but all the others were empty of bats, though many had droppings in. One, our hibernation box had some 6 inches of droppings in the bottom (up to the level of the entrance), so we cleared it out ready for the coming year. We don't think it's used as a winter hibernation box, rather, a decent-sized maternity roost box. Interestingly, I checked 6 of the 12 Kent boxes put up last winter, and found 2 single Pipistrelle sp. in them.

10th February 2015 [New Book]

I've just bought Merlin Tuttle's The Secret Life of Bats and couldn't put it down until I'd ploughed through it! It's a fascinating read, relating personal anecdotes and the hair-raising scrapes that he's got himself into during a life dedicated to bats. Of course, it also tells of the fantastic work he's done promoting these wonderful creatures. He set up Bat Conservation International which has helped save and protect countless millions of bats the world over. It's an easy read, that I'd thoroughly recommend to anyone remotely interested in bats or conservation in its widest sense.

19th December 2015 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

I've had a look in a few Kent boxes during the last week and haven't been too surprised to find roosting bats in them given the exceptionally mild conditions. I guess they are continuing to remain active as there seem to be lots of midges still on the wing.

30th October 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

A last throw of the dice this evening before the licence runs out, saw Ken Anstey, Jane Cole, Jim Mulholland and I running two harp traps with lures by the fishing Lodge car park. We caught just a single ♂ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus in 7.5 hours! Clearly time to pack up the traps for the winter...

30th September 2015 [Bat Box Checks, Barrow Reservoirs.]

Ken Anstey and I checked the boxes at Barrow Reservoirs this afternoon, but found not a trace of a bat, not even a dropping in any of the 23 boxes! This is very disappointing given that most of the boxes have been up for a long time - some of the hanging wires have been incorporated into the bark of the trees they're on. We'll have to have a serious think about the siting of the boxes and consider moving them over the winter.

We moved on to Blagdon to check the remaining boxes that we didn't have time for on 13th September and found just a single ♂ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

20th September 2015 [Bat Care]

I went to collect a sightly injured Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus picked up in a Wrington garden on 5th September and after a fortnight of feeding and resting on a heat pad, it was flying well around our lounge last night and this morning, so I took it back and released it this evening. The couple who took the bat in and reported it, came out to watch it fly off into the night which was rather pleasing. Bonne chance little guy!

19th September 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

I couldn't find anywhere suitable to trap at Moreton Point, Chew Valley Lake, before dusk, and when Alasdair Grant and Chris Barrington arrived we elected to try Butcombe Bank at Blagdon. As a result we didn't get the traps and lures in place until 2100 hrs. We ran them until 2330 hrs and caught just 2♀ Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros which was released immediately. Not a great result, even though there were seemingly good numbers of bats around according to the detector.

19th September 2015 [Bat Box Checks]

I drove to Great Breach Wood, near Somerton, with Georgie Hayworth this morning for Somerset Bat Group box checks. We found a small number of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus during the round.

17th September 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey, Chris Barrington and I ran two harp traps and lures at Lodge Copse/Home Bay this evening, although we started late, due to the wind blowing onto Butcombe Bank and forcing us to move. We didn't didn't have a particularly good evening, catching just 3♀ Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

13th September 2015 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

A small team comprising Kristy Lee Kelly, Georgie Hayworth, Nye Morris, Sue Caola and I, spent the day checking boxes and managed 40 of the 52 before calling it a day. We also took a look in the Bat House, and were really delighted to see Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros droppings on the floor for the first time. Hopefully, this will give us the impetus to finish putting up hibernation bricks in the basement ready for this winter. We also found the Natterer's Myotis nattereri group for the first time this year with four of the twelve having been previously ringed by Daniel Hargreaves. I'll post details when I know more. We processed 17 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and left another group in a box which contained at least 10 individuals according to Kristy. My thanks to the team for their considerable help today - it was a great effort.

26th August 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We had the pleasure of visits from Dr. Dani Linton (Oxford Univ.), Denise Foster and Mike Bailey (Herefordshire), and Katherine Bubb (Cheltenham) this evening. We ran 6 harp traps with lures between Cheddar Water and Home Bay Point. We saw 3 Lesser Horseshoes night roosting and caught 33 bats:

21st August 2015 [Swarming Survey, Nr Bath.]

Jim Mulholland led our little team for a swarming survey co-ordinated across several Wiltshire sites on the same night to see if there is any movement between them. We had at least a couple of re-captures on the night but I don't think we came across any bats seen elsewhere on the night, although full details have yet to be analysed. We had a good selection of spp. capturing Brown Long-eared, Brandt's, Whiskered, Daubenton's, both Horseshoes, Serotine, Natterer's and Bechsteins.

21st August 2015 [Chew Valley Lake Bat Box Scheme]

Chris Barrington, Ken Anstey and I carried out the first complete round of bat boxes since they were put up last winter. We have had a really good level of uptake with evidence of bats having occupied 44% of the boxes, which compares very favourably with the 41% uptake found at Blagdon on 16th August, with the new and re-sited boxes there. We also found 16 (12♂, 4♀) Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in the boxes. It appears that the 3FN design does deter birds from nesting in the boxes (cf. 2FN with a bigger entrance), and the other thing of note was the number of overwintering Hornet Vespa crabro queens we've found dead in boxes with nests that have come to nothing this year, both here and at Blagdon.

18th August 2015 [Swarming Survey, Nr Bath.]

Dani Linton ran a swarming survey this evening from dusk until dawn (I got home at 0700 hrs), with a small team that had to work hard with 7 harp traps and two nets to keep free. I think we caught 56 bats which included Brown Long-eared, Brandt's, Whiskered, Daubenton's, both Horseshoes, Serotine, Natterer's, Bechsteins, Barbastelle, and a single Soprano Pipistrelle. An amazing diversity of species!

16th August 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

Ken Anstey and I checked four bat boxes this morning and found some droppings in a couple but no bats. However, that means 10 of 24 new or resited boxes have been used this year, and 24 of 50 have been used sometime during 2015. So we must be doing something right.

We ran an impromptu 3 hour trapping session on Butcombe Bank in the evening and caught 24 bats in 45 minutes which was almost overwhelming for the two of us. Luckily, George Hayworth and Nye came to our rescue. However, after the initial flurry, we caught no more bats for the next 2.25 hrs. We didn't catch any Nathusius' Pipistrelles, but did catch 4 Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii and 20 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus.

14th August 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Litton Reservoirs.]

Ken Anstey and I checked to see if the ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle was still in the box I found it in last night - but alas it wasn't! Afterwards, we went to Litton Lower Reservoir to run the harp traps and lures with Kristy, Georgie and Nye. We caught 9 Soprano Pipistrelles and a Whiskered Bat.

13th August 2015 [Bat Box Checks]

On 2nd August I wrote "and then we came across lots of droppings, that we have yet to identify, in two of the boxes I put up with Ken this winter - which is all rather exciting." I decided to check the two boxes in question again this evening because no-one seems to be able to identify the droppings. Blow me! I opened one, a 2F DFP, and found an unringed ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrelli nathusii. I put up several pairs of 2F and 2F DFP boxes over the winter in the hope that Nathusius' may use them because it seems to be a preferred design in a couple of existing schemes. Bingo - result!

10th August 2015 [AWT Volunteer Trainees Trapping Session]

We ran 3 harp traps, two with the National Nathusius' Project lures, and one with a variety of calls. A triple high net was also erected near the Fishing Lodge, though it was hastily taken down again when it filled with bats at dusk. Jim emptied the net and in a frantic few minutes bagged a dozen or more bats. While he processed them with the trainees, I collected a steady stream of bats from the harp traps. Big news was we caught 3 new ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrelli nathusii which were ringed, fur clipped and had faecal samples taken for DNA analysis. The first was the 50th for the lake and cause enough for celebration, but then the night got immeasurably better when a JUVENILE ♀ came in too.

Portrait of our first juvenile (& 4th ) Nathusius' Pipistrelle © Nigel Milbourne, 2015

That's a huge step forward in our quest to prove there is a local breeding colony. High fives were exchanged! In the morning, I'll post some photos on the Blagdon Lake Bats Facebook Page. Catch details were:

8th/9th August [Avon Bat Group Big Bat Bonanza (incorp. National Nathusius' Project)]

Jim Mulholland hosted two wonderful trapping sessions at Tortworth Lake on Friday night and Tortworth Arboretum on Saturday night. We caught quite a few bats of several species, including some new to the site, and recorded a (Western) Barbastelle Barbastella barbastellus.

7th August 2015 [YACWAG/ABG Trapping Session]

Had a really good trapping session in a private woodland on the Tickenham ridge arranged by Chris Barrington and supported by Iain Hysom and Jim Mulholland. We ran 2 harp traps and 2 triple high nets until about 0030 hrs. We caught 16 bats of 6 species and Jim found a Noctule Nyctalus noctula roost. Top session with a top team! On with the National Nathusius Project and Avon Bat Groups Big Bat Bonanza tomorrow and Saturday.

2nd August 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Litton Reservoirs.]

Chris Barrington and I ran the two National Nathusius Project traps and lures beside Litton Lower reservoir this evening and were blown away with the numbers of bats around the lake and over the water. We caught just 5 bats:

We may have had more success if the moon hadn't been so bright, as we caught all five bats within an hour of sunset, but nothing after the moon came up. We can also add Daubenton's, Lesser Horseshoe and Serotine to the site list from our observations and echolocation calls. It's a site I'd really like to visit again soon, as it could very well provide us with some more Nathusius' Pipistrelle records.

2nd August 2015 [Bat Box Checks, Blagdon Lake.]

Georgie Hayworth, Kristy Kelly, Chris Barrington, Ken Anstey and I, checked the bat boxes today. Essentially, this was to enable us to remove bird nests that had been finished with, ready for the autumn bat season. We had an amazing day and managed to check all the boxes bar three, two of which I'd put up recently and the hibernation box. Unfortunately, we didn't come across our Natterer's colony, but Chris found some droppings that he thought suggested we might have Daubenton's using boxes for the first time, and then we came across lots of droppings, that we have yet to identify, in two of the boxes I put up with Ken this winter - which is all rather exciting. I'll take some of the droppings along to the Avon Bat Group's Big Bat Bonanza this weekend to garner some more opinions about them. I suppose we could send the droppings off for DNA analysis, if we don't come to a consensus about their origins, or, of course, I could check the boxes more frequently to try and find the suppliers! All that apart, we came across 5 maternity roosts of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and 10 other individuals. We checked one of the colonies, which we found contained 22 bats (4 adult females and 18 juveniles), and left the other four alone. However, they may have contained another 30-50 bats between them. It seems like the Soprano Pipistrelles have had a bumper breeding season.

25th July 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

Another trapping session this evening, this time at Sutton Wick, Chew Valley Lake. It wasn't anything like as good as we'd hoped for, and we're still waiting to trap our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle there. Two harp traps with lures produced a rather miserable 6 bats:

23rd July 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We had a fantastic trapping session this evening with workers coming from as far away as Herefordshire and Williton, Somerset. We ran 5 harp traps with lures and a triple high net. Thanks to all who came to help, especially Denise and David. Details of the catch were as follows:

50 bats of 6 spp. with 2 new ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrelli nathusii ringed, bringing the total ringed at Blagdon to 49 now.

26th June 2015 [Bat Roost Count]

I carried out a roost count this evening at Chew Valley Lake and counted a peak 34 Lesser Horseshoes Rhinolophus hipposideros out of the (presumed maternity) roost in the first 1.25 hours after sunset. There was a lot of light sampling almost immediately after sun down, with bats coming and going from 2140 hrs onwards.

22nd June 2015 [Facebook Page]

Recently, I created a Facebook page Blagdon Lake Bats to share the bat news from the lake, and update followers with whats going on in the bat world. I haven't managed to work out how to create a hot link from this blog page yet, but hopefully I'll get it sorted soon for those of you who'd prefer to follow on Facebook. Watch this space!

21st June 2015 [Bat Care]

I had to go and buy some more mealworms this morning, in order to give the Noctule a light meal early this evening before taking her to Worlebury Woods to try and get her to fly. We used a heat pad for a while, during which time it was quite obvious she thought she was going to be fed again, but no, tonight it was going to be tough love! I'd decided we should try to fly her down a hill through the woods, in the hope the ground falling away would give her sufficient clearance to get properly airborne. After much persuasion, Chris managed to get her to leave his hand and she flew down the hill through the tunnel of trees while I followed her in the beam of my headtorch for at least 200 metres by which time she was flying strongly at about 10 feet. We walked to the bottom of the hill just to reassure ourselves she'd kept going okay, and on not finding her, felt reasonably happy we'd got her away safely, albeit the weather could have been kinder - there was some light drizzle falling by this time.

Noctule Bat Nyctalus noctula. She was a real sweetie! © Nigel Milbourne, 2015

20th June 2015 [Bat Care]

I agreed with the bat finder Chris Schwarz, to try placing the Noctule on the side of their house, the only high point in the caravan park where she was found, to see if she would fly from there. After half an hour of watching her crawling around under the eaves trying to find a sheltered spot to go back to sleep, I decided that wasn't going to work either, and so back home she came again.

19th June 2015 [Bat Care]

Kiri and I agreed that as the Noctule was apparently in good health, Ce and I would pick her up from Fishponds with a view to releasing her back at Kewstoke this evening. I managed to get her to fly out of my hand 3 times, but each time she grounded. In retrospect I guess I wasn't giving her enough clearance to get properly airborne. We took her home again for another night in care.

18th June 2015 [Voluntary Bat Roost Visit]

I got a call to go and see a grounded Noctule Bat Nyctalus noctula that had been picked up at Sand Bay, Kewstoke, today. I got there early evening and after giving the bat a once over for injuries and giving her a clean bill of health, we gave her a drink of water which she avidly quaffed. I waited until dusk to see if she would fly but, she wouldn't, so I decided to take her across Bristol to carer Kiri Green to be fed and roosted overnight. She tucked into the mealworms Kiri offered her and ate nine before deciding she'd had enough!

6th June 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

I joined Chris Barrington, Ken Anstey, and a few members of Avon and Somerset Bat Groups trapping at Nunnery Point, Chew Valley Lake this evening. We had a quiet time of it, but did catch a ♀ Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus, a ♀ Daubenton's Bat, a ♀ Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros and a ♀ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus. We also found at least 4 Lesser Horseshoes night roosting. The session ran from sunset to 0145 hrs when Ken and I realised the remaining lure had run out of juice. Why can't we catch a Nathusius' Pipistrelle anywhere locally other than at Blagdon? We saw plenty of bats at dusk, and Kristy Kelly demonstrated her new Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter Touch while we were watching the bats flying around us. It looks like a nice piece of kit and it'll be interesting to hear what she managed to record.

4th June 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We had a big turnout for the latest session, with four harp traps and lures run by three teams. Denise Foster headed up a team running her two traps, Chris Barrington headed up a team of YACWAG members and Sarah Dale headed up a team of Avon Wildlife staff. We had a quiet start to the evening, without the usual flurry of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus coming to the traps as dusk fell. But at 2330 hrs it went mad, as we caught the first 2 of 3 Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii trapped during the session. Both were ♂♂ and included our old friend A4656 ringed in 2011 by Daniel Hargreaves. We also caught 4 Soprano Pips. and Chris's team found a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophos hipposideros hanging up digesting a meal. Denise and I stayed until first light, turning the traps off at 0315 hrs, and caught the third ♂ Nathusius' Pip. at 0215 hrs - another new bat. All Nathusius' were fur clipped and the two new ones were ringed. Droppings were collected from two of them as well. That makes 47 Nathusius' caught at Blagdon since 2011, with just 5 recaptures.

National Nathusius' Project (Trap #1 & trap #2 at )

Denise Foster (Trap #3 , trap #4 at )

27th May 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Conham.]

This evening Ken Anstey, Jim Mulholland and I ran the two harp traps and lures beside the Bristol Avon at Conham, in the hope of catching a Nathusius' Pip. However, we only managed 3♀ Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, all of which were released straight away with minimal handling. We gave up after two hours as the wind got up and, luckily, just before the rain started.

24th May 2015 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

It was the turn of transect 4 this evening, and I had the good fortune to pick up a Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus on my EM3+ detector before I started the walk and watched it fly up to a 1FF box a couple of times before going in for about a minute. The walk itself produced 10 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes recorded in the vicinity of Ash Tree on the north side of the lake.

23rd May 2015 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

I walked a very productive transect 3 this evening, recording 17 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes, which compares very favourably with just 5 passes during all the walks here last year. The passes were all recorded behind the Top End hide wood which provided some shelter from the steady breeze.

22nd May 2015 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

Transect 2 from Green Lawn to the south side of Holt Copse produced no fewer than 36 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes this evening. I started to record them close to Rainbow Point and then all the way to Holt Copse around Wood Bay. There could have been as few as two individuals involved, but that's of little import compared with proving their presence at this time of year. It was interesting to note that the single Ash tree in the hedge half way around Holt Bay attracted a few feeding bats too. It just proves how important a hedge line with at least some standard trees is to them. I had the company of Noctules Nyctalus noctula (the UKs largest bat) along most of the transect, and the area by the barrier into Holt Copse was especially busy with several species giving good flight views and recordings.

21st May 2015 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

I walked transect 1 this evening and although there were fewer species recorded than last night there was much more activity, probably due to the sheltered nature of the walk. I recorded nearly 400 files in the 1 km, that included 18 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes.

20th May 2015 [Bat Box Checks & Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

Yahoo! One of the Kent bat boxes that I made and put up over the winter had a bat in it today!

I walked transect 5 with Georgie Hayworth this evening (along the dam and Butcombe Bank). There was a really cool light WNW breeze which meant we didn't record any bats until we got to the shelter of the trees by the Spillway, then it went mad! We recorded 3 Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros passes and, more importantly to me, 3 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes. But, there were so many bats feeding along the sheltered water's edge, it made for some awesome recordings.

15th May 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Blagdon Lake.]

We held our first trapping session of the year at Blagdon, a supplementary site to the main trapping effort of the Avon Bat Group's National Nathusius' Project (NNP) involvement. Denise Foster of Herefordshire Mammal Group came down with two harp traps and lures plus a triple high net, which we ran in addition to the usual two harp traps and lures. Denise ran a variety of calls on her lures (mainly woodland species but did include Nathusius'), while the NNP lures were run with the standard Nathusius' calls developed by Daniel Hargreaves at Blagdon. It was a warm night with a temperature of 16 Celsius at 2050 hrs when we turned the lures on, and 12 Celsius when we packed up at 0120 hrs. We also had the benefit of 100% cloud cover and a light breeze of less than 0.8 km/sec. We got off to a flyer with a good number of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a single Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus being caught early on, then we had something of a lull for about 45 minutes before we started to catch steadily again. We added the first of 3 Whiskered Bats Myotis mystacinus, then at 2325hrs we caught our first Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipstrellus nathusii of the season in the triple high net run alongside Lodge Copse. It was an old friend, a ♂ A4656 that Daniel ringed on 13th Aug. 2011 at Butcombe Bank (and subsequently recaptured with me on 29th Aug. 2011 at Pipe Bay, 25th Sept. 2011 advertising at Pipe Bay and 19th Oct. 2011 again at Pipe Bay). At 2345 hrs our second Nathusius' came in to NNP trap #1 at Home Bay, a new bat that we fur clipped, collected droppings from and ringed as H8800. Finally, at 0045 hrs we caught our third Nathusius', another ♂ H8799, in Denise's trap #3, run in a ride between Lodge Copse and a boundary hedge, that we also fur clipped before release. I'd like to thank Denise for coming down with her kit, and the ABG team for making it a great night.

Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii © Nigel Milbourne, 2015

Here's the breakdown of the 31 bats caught:

National Nathusius' Project (Trap #1 Home Bay & trap #2 at Lodge Lawn)

Denise Foster (Trap #3 Lodge Copse, trap #4 at Pipe Bay Copse & triple high by the Lodge car park)

15th May 2015 [Bat Box Checks]

I completed the Spring box checks with Denise Foster this afternoon and found a group of Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in one of the 1FF boxes. We didn't take them out.

8th May 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Tortworth.]

We trapped at Jim Mulhollands site, Tortworth Lake, again this evening and caught 9 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, a Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and a ♂ Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus. At one point the occasional drizzle turned to heavier rain and we started to pack up, but when it stopped we decided to dry the traps and keep going. It was a steady session, but we've yet to catch the target species there.

25th April 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Chew Valley Lake.]

It was Chris Barrington's session at Chew Valley Lake this evening - perhaps the first time trapping has been carried out at Chew? Conditions were overcast, and we had light rain on and off for 2 hours before heavier rain set in forcing us to pack up. We set up two traps with lures at Moreton Point and disappointingly only caught 3 bats, given the masses flying around the plantation. However, we did catch a Brandt's Bat Myotis brandtii, the second site record (apparently, one had been found in the hide at Moreton Point a little while ago). According to Rich Andrews CVL Birding website, there are no previous Serotine Eptesicus serotinus records, but we can confirm that we recorded and saw at least two flying around. Indeed, Ian Stapp has contacted me today as follows "I photographed a Serotine low down in a tree at the entrance to Moreton Hide taken 15th April 2010  about 11.00 am. There was a Serotine in Moreton hide on the morning of Monday July 11 2011. For the last 12 years or so I have made sound recordings from a bat detector over at Moreton about 3 or 4 times through the Summer & I have recorded Serotine on most of my visits." Jim Mulholland and Ken Anstey sent sonograms of Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii recorded in front of the hide last night as well, even though we didn't catch one!

Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii sonogram, Moreton Hide, Chew Valley Lake © Jim Mulholland, 2015

25th April 2015 [Bat Box Checks]

A small team carried out the bat bax checks today. The only species we found were Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus including two groups of ♀♀ in 1FF boxes, one of 20 individuals and one of 9 individuals, and a possible mating roost with a ♂ and 2 ♀ in another 1FF box. There were 3 other lone ♂♂, two in 1FF boxes and, pleasingly, another in one of the new 2F DFP boxes put up in October 2014, that I'm hoping will be taken up by Nathusius' Pipistrelles in due course. We didn't see our Natterer's group in the Pumping Station boxes, but there was evidence of recent use in one of the boxes they've used in the past.

17th April 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Conham.]

A change of venue, as we trapped at Ken Ansteys choice of site, Conham Vale, beside the Bristol Avon this evening. Once again there seemed to be a few species on the wing, and we caught 4 Common Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus, 2 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus and a Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii. We took some fur clippings from the Pips, as required by the project methodology, and these will be compared with Nathusius' clippings taken at the same site, using stable-isotope analysis, in order to help build a picture of Nathusius' migration movements over the UK and NW Europe.

12th April 2015 [Chew Valley Lake Bat Box Scheme]

Chris Barrington and I put up the last 4 boxes this afternoon. We've had quite a bit of interest while we've been putting them up and it's given us the chance to engage with the public. Hopefully, we'll get some bats in the boxes soon and we'll be able to build on the public engagement aspect of our work when checking boxes along the public trails at the lakeside. See the April's Mendip Times page 8 for a short article about the scheme.

11th April 2015 [Spring Swarming Site / Ringing training]

Another evening of trapping at what we hoped would turn out to be a Spring swarming site near Bath, but we only caught emerging bats. Nevertheless, there was a good range of species from Greater and Lesser Horseshoes, to Brandt's, Whiskered, Daubenton's and Natterer's, though none of them were suitable for our ringing training unfortunately.

10th April 2015 [National Nathusius' Project, Tortworth.]

Avon Bat Group have been invited to take part in the National Nathusius' Study this year, so the team of Jim Mulholland, Ken Anstey, Dan Flew, Chris Barrington and I have chosen 4 study sites to trap at (in addition to Blagdon Lake).

This evening we trapped at Tortworth Lake, Jim Mulhollands site, and caught 4 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus. There were plenty of other species on the wing at dusk over the water and I ran my bat detector to record some. I haven't had the chance to check the recordings yet though due to my computer dying. Jim showed us how to take fur clippings, which is one of the requirements of the project, and we each had the chance to do so.

13th January 2015 [BSG Ecology Bat Migration Research Project]

BSG Ecology have published information on their bat migration research which includes a survey at Pilning Wetland on the Severn Estuary that saw Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii recorded. The Severn Estuary Report is downloadable as a pdf file. It makes fascinating reading and agrees with my findings that Nathusius' Pipstrelles are often not on the wing until about 40 minutes after sunset. The pre-dawn peak of recorded passes was a very interesting observation as well.

28th January 2015 [Bat Box Spring-clean]

Ken Anstey and I spent the day cleaning around the bat boxes, moving a few that haven't been used in the past to new positions, and putting up some new ones that I've purchased over the winter. There's still a bit to do before I go to India in March, mainly around Butcombe Bay and in the grounds of the Pumping Station.

14th January 2015 [New Bat Box Designs]

I have taken delivery of two new designs of bat box that will be going up at Chew Valley Lake that I thought you might like to have a look at:

The 3FN (a new version of the popular 2FN) is pictured here to show the reconfigured bottom entrance hole which, I believe, should prevent bird access. That's the hope anyway.

3FN box (left) & 2FN box (right) © Nigel Milbourne, 2015

The 3FF is an enlarged version of the 1FF which has proven so popular with Pipistrelle spp. at Blagdon. It has an enlarged compartment suitable for a colony to use. Note the oval inspection hole on the side (middle image).

3FF box © Nigel Milbourne, 2015

4th January 2015 [Burrington Combe Hibernation Checks]

I joined a small group of bat workers to check some of the Burrington Combe caves today. We found 54 bats of 3 species; a single Natterer's, as well as Greater and Lesser Horseshoes. I last went into some of the caves with Bristol University Spelaeological Society in the mid-1960s! I recall seeing more Greater Horseshoe Bats in those far-off days, but I have no records for comparison, unfortunately. I suppose it's quite possible that some of the bats hibernating at Burrington feed around Blagdon Lake. Incidentally, apart from lots of Cave Spiders, we also saw a number of moths (The Tissue mostly, but also a couple of Heralds). Surprisingly, I have yet to add The Tissue to the Blagdon macros list.

23rd December 2014 [Chew Valley Bat Box Scheme]

Santa came early today! Dominic Goodwin of NatureCounters sent the first 38 boxes for the new Chew Valley Lake Bat Box Scheme, so kindly funded by Bristol Water. Thanks to Dominic's generous discount we got an extra 6 boxes to go on the Blagdon scheme too. There are another 14 bound for Chew, of a new design by Schwegler, due to be delivered in the New Year. So, time to number them, stick them outside for a couple of weeks to get rid of the 'new' smell, then we can get them up ready to be used by bats in the Spring.

20th December 2014 [Natterer's Bat split]

Hot on the heels of yesterdays revelations comes news about Natterer's Bats. Although alluded to for several years, it seems that we may have a four-way split about to be made of what was considered to be a single widespread species. Have a look at the article by Andrew Harrington The Bat with the Identity Crisis. It's hard enough to identify many of the Myotis spp. on call, or even in the hand in a few cases, soon we will be resorting to chemistry sets! Who was it coined the phrase 'little brown jobs'? That was about birds. Try bats if you're looking for a real challenge! It looks like the Natterer's problem mainly concerns southern Europe, and Iberia in particular, but who knows what the phylogeneticists are going to come up with next.

19th December 2014 [BCT Newsletter - Nathusius' Pipistrelle study]

I received the December 2014 Bat Conservation Trust newsletter Bat Monitoring Post today which included this update on the Nathusius' Pipistrelle migration investigation studies that are being carried out in the UK at present.

New evidence of Nathusius' pipsitrelle migration

Nathusius' pipistrelle is one of the UK's more enigmatic species and there are various projects being carried out that aim to answer questions about its UK distribution, where it roosts and its migratory patterns. Many of you are helping improve our knowledge of its distribution by taking part in the NBMP Nathusius' pipistrelle survey, the latest results from which will be published in the spring.

Nathusius' pipistrelleIn 2014 BCT have been piloting a new project which involves capturing Nathusius’ pipistrelles to assess breeding status and take fur samples for stable isotope analysis. Stable hydrogen isotope ratios are linked to latitude and studying them in bat fur samples will help to determine patterns of movement of this species in and out of the UK.

Several bat groups across England have been involved in this pilot survey and a total of 110 Nathusius' pipistrelle fur samples have been collected. The samples are currently being analysed at the University of Exeter and results from the pilot project will be available in March 2015.

BSG Ecology have also carried out a study looking at Nathusius' pipistrelle migratory patterns based on stable isotope analysis of fur clippings collected in South East England and South Wales. The results indicated that at least 40% of the bats sampled were long-distance migrants into the UK, probably originating from northern or eastern Europe. There were also indications that some of the bats sampled were resident in the UK. Click here for the full report.

 

18th December 2014 [UK Biodiversity Indicators - Bats]

On 4th December the government published it's latest update to the UK Biodiversity Indicators. One such indicator, C8i, measures the population changes of eight species in the wider bat population, which seem to indicate overall growth, although this must be put into the context of severe decline in the latter decades of the 20th century for many species. One species that doesn't seem to be doing well, however, is the Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus, probably the most abundant bat at Blagdon Lake, so it will be interesting to see how our monitoring programme reflects the national trend over the next few years. Read more.

15th December 2014 [European Bat Box Symposium]

Presentations given at the recent Bat Box Symposium 2014 have been made public on Youtube, and include a very interesting talk by Matthew Dodds and Hannah Bilston on their Finemere Bat Box Project, which is well worth a watch. There is another titled 'Bathouse fidelity of male Nathusius' Bat and Pond Bat' which is equally interesting in the Blagdon Lake context, though for me, the highlight was the presentation on bat box design which shows that in woodland, woodcrete boxes provide a similar kind of roost habitat to bark, rather than tree roosts which mitigate temperature extremes and provide a significant time lag in temperature fluctuations compared with ambient.

9th December 2014 [National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pilot Study Update]

I had a long chat to Daniel Hargreaves last night, and learned that we will be taking an active part in the National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project next year. We will need to trap at four water bodies once a month with two harp traps and lures, as per the pilot study protocol, unless the methodology is relaxed to maximise the chance of catching as many Nat Pips as possible. Daniel talked me through some of the findings of this year's Pilot Study, during which a fair number of Nat Pips were caught, including a small number of females none of which showed any signs of breeding condition. I don't know if the details have been released yet, but I'll give more information when they are in the public domain. As it stands at present, I'm guessing we will trap at Blagdon and Tortworth Lakes next year, subject to permission, and two other lakes to be agreed, one of which I hope will be Chew Valley Lake. So, with bat box schemes to check and a regular programme of trapping, it sounds like it's going to be a busy new year.

Here are links to the Derbyshire (& Nottingham) Bat Group Pilot Study Report, and the Surrey Bat Group Study Report. Northumberland, Kent and Cheshire & South Lancs Bat Groups also took part, and we await their reports with anticipation.

3rd November 2014 [Wytham Woods, Oxon.]

Jane Cole [Avon Bat Group] let me know that a paper about the Wytham Woods, Oxon. bats was published on 30th October. I went to help co-author Dr. Dani Linton check boxes a couple of times this summer so, it was of particular interest to me. Talking about one of the key findings, Dr Fiona Mathews from the University of Exeter said, "This work has really important practical implications for bat conservation. We now realise that although social groups of woodland bats 'move house' every few days, they remain within a very small geographical range. This means that even quite small-scale tree felling may destroy all the roosts potentially available to a group." You can read the article in Science Daily, and the paper itself by clicking on the link under the heading 'Journal Reference' at the bottom of the article.

31st October 2014 [Blagdon Bat Box Scheme]

I deployed 2-off 2F DFP Schwegler boxes nos. 31 and 33 and 2-off Kent Boxes nos. K1 and K2 this afternoon. I'm putting up Kent Boxes in areas where we currently have no boxes and where the woodland is too young to have a number of potential roost features (PRFs). I'll monitor these regularly and if bats start to use them, I'll replace them with Schwegler boxes and move the Kent Boxes to new areas for investigation.

23rd October 2014 [The Batman of Mexico Wins!]

Great news, the 'Our Discovery People and Nature Award' winner at Wildscreen 2014 is The Bat Man of Mexico!

20th October 2014 [The Batman of Mexico]

This evening I went along to Wildscreen 2014 at the Watershed in Bristol, to see the screening of The Batman of Mexico, which was attended by the director Tom Mustill and 'Bat Man' himself, Rodrigo Medellin. It was a full house and members of The Bat Conservation Trust and Avon Bat Group were in attendance to talk to film goers and show them some rescue bats afterwards. The film is a finalist at the PANDA Wildlife Film Awards, the Oscars of the the Nature Film world, the winners of which will be announced on 24th October in Bristol. The following day, the team will find out if they've won Best Documentary at the Innsbruck Nature Film Festival! I do hope so, Tom and Rodrigo were both very engaging characters, and the film is such a shot-in-the-arm for conservationists - a rare and inspiring good news story.

30th September 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

I walked transect #5 this evening and was astounded to record 84 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes. It will take quite a time to analyse the results and assign the recordings to the various sections of the transect (probably a winter evening job). Suffice to say, they seemed to be foraging all along Butcombe Bank where I was next to the water.

7th September 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

After a sunny day, a waxing gibbous moon rose making it seem quite light while I carried out transect #2 from Green Lawn to Holt Copse. The biggest surprise was a low pass by a Greater Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum at Holt Bay. It seemed to be on a mission rather feeding along the hedgeline. I recorded 4 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes during the transect, 3 at Wood Bay and 1 at the south side of Holt Copse.

5th September 2014 [Bat box checks and National Nathusius's Pilot Study trapping session]

This afternoon Daniel Hargreaves, Denise Foster, George Hayworth and I carried out some bat box checks at the Pumping Station and Pipe Bay Wood and found a probable Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus maternity roost, some Soprano mating roosts and the usual Natterer's roost.

In the evening we put up four harp traps with lures, two at Home Bay and two at Pipe Bay Copse, with the aim of catching some Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii for the cameras. We had Miranda Krestovnikoff with us to interview Daniel and hoping to see her first Nathusius's Pip.

Miranda Krestovnikoff & Denise Foster each with Daniel Hargreaves, Blagdon Lodge © Nigel Milbourne, 2014

We caught 4 new ♂ Nathusius' Pipistrelles P. nathusii (bringing the total to 43 trapped and ringed at the lake), 3 Common P. pipistrellus and 7 Soprano Pipistrelles, and a ♂ Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus. We also saw a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros hanging at a night roost, which really pleased Emily who'd come all the way from Essex to join us. Denise and Chris Barrington both had a chance to ring and fur-clip the target species for the first time, while YACWAG Bat Group member George Hayworth had an opportunity to handle new species and evergreen member Doreen Henderson duly noted all the details. Thanks to Daniel and Denise for making it all possible by bringing their traps.

4th September 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

This evening I walked bat transect #1. The lake was like a miror and the temperature a remarkable 17 Celsius. However, it was noticeable, once again, that a large number of the passes recorded were of Myotis spp. rather than Pipistrelles. Could there be some significance? I shall have to ask Daniel Hargreaves when I see him tomorrow, he may have an explanation that I can't think of. I'd have expected many of the Myotis spp. to be at their swarming site(s). I also recorded Noctules Nyctalus noctula and a Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros on the transect, and 1 faint Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii during the transect near the Fishing Lodge, which I confirmed on the way back, and another at the Bat House before going home.

2nd September 2014 [More Bat Boxes]

Sophie Edwards and I went over to Barrow Tanks today to have a look at the bat boxes that had been put up several years ago and which need monitoring. We are working through the necessary documentation (risk assessments, insurance etc.) in order for Avon Bat Group to be able to take them on. Furthermore, we are in discussion about putting up some boxes at Chew Valley Lake too.

25th August 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

A still evening after a day of rain. I walked transect #3 (reverse) and recorded 2 fairly indistinct Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes by Bell's Bush barrier. There was fair amount of Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Noctule Nyctalus noctula activity with a few Myotis sp. passes as well.

22nd-24th August [BatTRACK 2014]

Chris Barrington and I represented YACWAG at the BatTRACK event held at Wytham Woods in Oxfordshire. It was the first time I'd slept under canvas for 34 years, but we had a good time with many friends in the bat world, especially those who I've been on the Trinibats tours with. I helped choose the sites for and set up 3 harp traps and a triple high net which we ran with Bob Cornes on the first night in Bean Wood, capturing Daubenton's, Brown Long-eared and Soprano Pipistrelles. The second day I joined Henry Andrews for an afternoon looking at potential roost features (PRFs) after his excellent lecture, and that night Chris and I drove around the outside of the woods trying to pick up radio-tagged bats that may have gone out of the woods to feed at local water bodies etc. On the third day we radio-tracked a Natterer's Bat to it's roost site (nearly) and Jim Mullholland climbed to find it roosting with at least two others in a tear-out crevice in an Oak. After the group photo and BBQ, Chris and I drove home before the rain set in. Thanks to Dani Linton for an excellent event.

30th July 2014 [Bat Licence News]

Today, I learned that I have been granted a Class Survey Licence (WML-CL18-Level 2) which will enable YACWAG to help keep the bat box checks going at the lake. Many people have helped along the way, not least Daniel Hargreaves of course, but over the last year David Cottle in particular. Thanks so much to you both. Now I must concentrate on honing my handling skills with Dr. Dani Linton at Wytham Wood and keep working towards my Bat Volunteer Class Licence (WML-CL15-Level 1) to work as a voluntary roost visitor for Natural England.

22nd June 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

It had been a very hot day and with no cloud cover it stayed light well after the time that I started transect #4 (reverse). Although I recorded a few passes, there was nothing like the usual activity until after I'd finished the walk. I did, however, record one Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii pass, among the Soprano Pips, Eptesicus spp., and Noctules.

10th June 2014 [Television Programme]

Advanced notice of a programme on BBC2, Friday at 2100 hrs, 'The Bat Man of Mexico: Natural World'in which David Attenborough narrates the story of Rodrigo Medellin who has dedicated his life to saving every species of bat. He has been running education programmes in Mexico where all bats, not just Vampire Bats, were seen as evil.

I have been to Trinidad for the last 2 years to support the aims and objectives of Trinibats, an organisation set up by Geoffery Gomes and Daniel Hargreaves which also aims to educate the local population about the importance of bats to their island economy. We were lucky enough to see and capture two of the three species of vampire, the common and white-winged, on our trips.

6th June 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

I walked transect #3 (reverse) this evening and recorded just a single Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii pass.

3rd June 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

The settled weather encouraged me to carry out another transect this evening (transect #2 reversed). I recorded 12 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes, which was well up on last month, when I only recorded two. The activity was confined to the area alongside the oak trees at Green Lawn and may have represented just a single bat, but I think there were probably at least two foraging there.

2nd June 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

It was back to transect #1 (reverse) for this walk and I recorded 8 separate Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes (comparing favourably with the 9 recorded in May).

27th May 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

Transect #5 across the dam and along Butcombe Bank really came up trumps because I recorded no less than 20 passes along the 1 kilometre walk. I'm sure one or two bats may have been responsible for the majority of the passes but nevertheless it demonstrates their presence and foraging activity nicely.

26th May 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

I walked transect #4 from Indian Country to Orchard Bay this evening and recorded 8 Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii passes.

18th May 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

Another warm sunny day and evening saw me carry out the third transect of the month, this time from Hellfire Corner to Top End. I recorded lots more Noctule Nyctalus noctula and Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus, with a few Common Pipistrellus Pipistrellus pipistrellus and Myotis sp. calls. The very last recording of the transect turned out to be the only Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii pass.

17th May 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

It was a warm sunny day with an equally warm evening so I walked my second transect of the month. It was dominated by Noctule Nyctalus noctula and Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus passes. Just a single Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii pass was recorded. The methodology that I use follows the Nathusius' protocol required by the BCT for the NBMP, and although meant for just two surveys in September, I have started to use it all year. However, in my opinion it starts too early at 20 minutes after sunset, especially at this time of year. I didn't record a bat until 45 minutes after sunset this evening and I worry the methodology wont give me an accurate picture of distribution around the lake, so I propose to reverse the direction of my transects each month to minimise any potential bias.

14th May 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Monitoring Programme]

This evening I walked the first of five transects I've set up around the lake based on the earlier walks I've been carrying out. I started at the dam and walked to just short of Long Bay bridge along the south shore road. I certainly recorded Nathusius', Common and Soparano Pipistrelles, Noctule, Myotis sp., and Serotine/Leisler's. Many of the Soprano Pips were giving social calls.

Richard Crompton and Dr Sandie Sowler were running a trapping session with their students along Butcombe Bank this evening, but I left them to it, as I had to get up very early next morning. Sandie later reported that they'd caught just one each ♂ Soprano Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus and Daubenton's Bat Myotis daubentonii.

18th-20th April 2014 [National Nathusius' Pilot Study Training Weekend]

Representatives from several bat groups across the country and Dr Kate Barlow, Head of Monitoring at the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), came to Blagdon for a training workshop in order to move the study of Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii migration forward in England. The project aim is to catch as many Nathusius' Pipistrelles as we can at four main sites (large water bodies) in each pilot study area that will be surveyed every month until the end of October. Every bat will have a ring fitted and a small sample of fur clipped from its back in order for Professor Fiona Mathews and her team at Exeter University to carry out stable isotope analysis on it. The principle is that what the bats eat contains isotopes of hydrogen with ratios that vary across Europe, as one moves away from the Atlantic Ocean, and will be laid down in their fur. The stable isotope analysis, it is hoped, may give some pointers as to where each bat has been foraging since its previous moult and may, therefore, indicate if it is migratory. In addition to taking samples from Nathusius' Pipistrelles, we will be taking samples from Common and Soprano Pipistrelles on the assumption that they are largely sedentary, in order to compare their stable isotope ratios with the Nathusius' occurring at each site. If the pilot study is considered to have been successful at the end of the year, we will seek more funding to widen the project and, potentially, collaborate with bat workers in other countries on the migratory route.

Two trapping sessions were run on Friday and Saturday evenings at the lake, along with classroom work at SWT Mendip HQ at Callow Rock, Shipham, on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday afternoon we checked a few bat boxes and looked inside the Bat House for the first time this year. We found a few Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus in the boxes but the Bat House, rather disappointingly, showed no sign of having been used by bats during the winter.

The trapping sessions were carried out on cold evenings with apparently less bat activity than when I carried out the earlier transect walks (see below). On Friday we caught 2♂♂ Nathusius', and on Saturday another ♂, none of which had been ringed previously. According to Daniel, we've trapped 39 Nathusius' Pips at Blagdon to date, which is remarkable.

I understand that groups working in the East Riding of Yorkshire and near Heathrow Airport have been quite successful at attracting Nathusius' Pipistrelles into boxes that they've put up and I'd like to understand if that is down to box design and/or siting because, although we have a good Nathusius population at Blagdon, we rarely find them in our boxes. Sampling from bats roosting in boxes would be a useful supplementary method to harp trapping, which involves a moderate capital outlay for equipment that we can't afford at present.

4th April 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

I walked transect #5 this evening from the south end of the dam around to All Saint's meadow at the head of Butcombe Bay. Unfortunately, I started my walk 10 minutes too early at 30 minutes after dusk. The most notable thing was the large number of Noctules Nyctalus noctula foraging behind and over the dam (a UK BAP species). But, as I got towards the Spillway more pipistrelles were recorded and then I recorded my first Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii which were flying up and down the road between the trees beyond the spillway bridge, thankfully at a height of some 15 metres or so. I also recorded them along the water's edge on the footpath alongside Butcombe Bay and finally one just short of the conservation barrier in All Saint's meadow. I also recorded 2 Lesser Horseshoe Bats Rhinolophus hipposideros (another UK BAP species). What's interesting is that approximately 11% of the files recorded and classified by the software (and checked manually) contained Nathusius' calls - very similar to the previous two walks.

30th March 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

I walked transect #4 this evening along the North Shore and recorded at least 7 different individual Nathusius' Pipistrelles Pipistrellus nathusii. There were 268 'classified' (by the software) files recorded in the 53 minutes taken to complete the 2km transect, of which 37 (14%) had Nathusius' passes on them. Nathusius' are typically the 3rd most common bat recorded on the transects, after Soprano P. Pygmaeus and Common Pipistrelles P. pipistrellus. Remarkable!

29th March 2014 [Nathusius' Pipistrelle Transect Walk]

We had a great time on the Trinibats 2014 expedition and I saw at least 2 new species of bat and got some nice photos of a few species. Time seems to have crept on since my last entry, but the weather has been pretty awful and too cold to walk transects, so, although it is nearly the end of the month I decided to walk one this evening as it has finally warmed up. I walked the 2km transect #1 from the dam to Holt Bay and recorded 22 (10%) Nathusius' passes on 213 files, which I reckon represent 5 different bats. I also recorded a Lesser Horseshoe and Serotine. See the Nathusius' Monitoring Page for more details.

14th February 2014 [Bat Detector Problems Resolved]

I went up to Envisage Wildcare at Swindon today to pick up my Wildlife Acoustics EM3+ Bat Detector which had a problem with the screen (two black lines appeared across it whenever it is was on. They replaced the screen for me and everything is hunky dory in readiness for the upcoming Trinibats 2014 research trip, I'm relieved to report. If things quieten down a bit next week I might try to get some lakeside Nathusius's Pip transects done before I go to Trinidad.

20th January 2014 [Blagdon Nathusius' Pipistrelle Found in the Netherlands]

A Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii ringed by Daniel Hargreaves at Pipe Bay, Blagdon, on 14th October 2012 has been found dead in the Netherlands, which makes it the first ever recovery of a UK-ringed bat overseas. Daniel and I trapped 3 ♂ Nathusius' that evening, one of which I photographed him with.

Daniel Hargreaves with a Nathusius's Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii trapped at Pipe Bay © Nigel Milbourne, 2012

The bat was found in a farm shed 500 metres from the Dutch coast at Pietersbierum, where it had unfortunately roosted between pallets used for packing vegetables. This is a direct distance of nearly 600 km, but Daniel suspects a more likely route would have taken the bat to Kent, where it crossed the North Sea and then headed north east up the coastline.

Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii A4030 recovery track © Daniel Hargreaves, 2014

Sadly, it was dead when found by someone working on the farm, but they noticed it was ringed and Teddy Dolstra of the Friesland Mammal Working Group was called.

Teddy Dolstra with a Greater Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum © Nigel Milbourne, 2014

He recognised it as a Nathusius' Pipistrelle, and after a Facebook exchange and string of emails he was put in touch with Daniel. Long story short, Teddy came over to England and stayed overnight with Daniel and Heidi in Kent on Thursday before they came to Blagdon for the weekend in order to visit the site together.

Daniel Hargreaves with Teddy Dolstra at the newly converted Bat House at Pipe Bay © Teddy Dolstra, 2014

Teddy brought the bat with him, and on Sunday we met with Dr Fiona Mathews of Exeter University to give her the bat for stable-isotope analysis and other tests which might, we hope, give us an insight into its life.

Nathusius' Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii A4030 back in Blagdon before being handed over to Dr. Fiona Mathews © Nigel Milbourne, 2014

A public announcement was made today, so Teddy and I wandered down to the village stores this morning to pick up the daily papers before he set off for the long drive home at lunchtime. I understand The Independent has run a good article and Daniel has just told me on the phone that the news has gone viral on lots of websites. It's a fantastic outcome for the YACWAG team involved with Daniel's project at Blagdon Lake and thanks must go to Bristol Water for their considerable help in facilitating the work.