2012 has been a good year to be a BrumBat – we had an impressive presence at this year’s National Bat Conference in York, where two of our members were speakers this year. Chris Sherlock, our training officer, gave a talk on her groundbreaking Mock Roost Visit training programme, now in its third year, and James Hale presented his research on urban bats and gap-crossing. They were supported by a gang of BrumBat cheerleaders – me, Pete B, Emily, Paul W and Charlene, as well as several other ‘honorary’ BrumBats from our neighbouring bat groups!
The three-day event takes place every year, at the end of the ‘Bat Season’, and it is a chance for bat workers, bat carers, researchers and conservationists to get together and share information on new developments in bat conservation. Its also a general excuse to get our geek on for a few days and talk sound analysis, mitigation, radio tracking studies and new survey methodology. (Fuelled by lots of coffee, tea and biscuits!)
As well as a number of talks given each day on topics from mitigation to conservation, there are a number of different workshops. Sadly, you can only choose one per day, but I managed to get the two I wanted: Wildlife Crime and Bat Ectoparasites. Neither disappointed! I will be paying much more close attention to the parasites that come attached to bats that I get in care – it is really fascinating – from fleas to mites, ticks to bugs, I had no idea that the critters living on a bat’s skin and in its fur were so diverse!
The conference was held in the beautiful grounds of the University of York, and the staff there (both university and BCT staff) were incredibly helpful. Its a real privilege to spend a weekend with passionate, knowledgeable and articulate people, and I think that Chris & James did us proud. It can’t be easy speaking in front of so many people… I asked Chris what it was like to be up there on stage giving her talk. Here’s what she said:
“So what did I think up there? Hope I do the bat group proud… Hope I make a case for not just thinking all bat work is beautiful countryside and sexy species… I can’t see anybody the lights are so bright… What do I do with my hands??… Don’t just read it Chris!!!! Use the pointer that will help…phew…Help them understand what we did!…Morgan said explain the mock thing …do that first! Phew done it!… This machine does not make the slides move on very well!… Bob introduced me very nicely with his version of what I sent in as requested…that was nice. I do like Bob. Come in on time, come in on time!!!!…
Ah! Phew and no questions, still it is done and I did not fluff my first ever go, please let people think that Birmingham and the Black Country bat work is not a oxymoron!”