In order to raise money for field kit for this year’s BrumBats Urban Bat Project, my science homie Scott (@The_Ecologists_Apprentice) and I have spent the last few weekends teaching workshops on “Introduction to Endoscopes for Bat Surveys”. With up to nine people attending each course, we did an indoor session covering legislation and licensing, before spending the afternoon out in the field doing practical training.
Using endoscopes to survey for bats can be done year-round, but it is something that we tend to do in winter when we are missing doing ‘normal’ bat survey work. It is a licensable activity (meaning that you need to hold or be an accredited agent on a Class 2 Bat Licence from Natural England in order to use an endoscope to search for bats). This is because the activity poses a risk of disturbance to bats. Bats, like all other European Protected Species, are afforded protection against disturbance by the Habitats Regulations.
After getting their heads around licensing, legislation, health and safety, equipment and types of potential roost features, we took to the wild woods of the West Midlands to learn practical skills. These included how to use a torch and mirror to inspect potential roost features (PRFs), and how to safely and conscientiously use an endoscope to inspect PRFs. We also looked at lots of different PRF types, and covered the basics of good practice in creating biological records, including how to use GPS equipment and the iRecord app.
After three courses with no bats found (but lots of skills learned), within the first ten minutes of field work, I found a brown long-eared bat in a small PRF in a silver birch tree! No endoscope was required because it was visible from the path! You can see it in the header picture above, and the feature it was inside in the photo below, which shows just how small a tree it was sheltering in!
You can find out more about BrumBats here. And we’d like to say special thanks to @DavidNixon_ for the loan of equipment and to @countrysidekev of @walsallcouncil for access to their fantastic countryside sites.