Another guest blog for you this week, about the launch of our Batlas Project from Ben Wood. Ben (@BenMarcWood) is an ecologist in training who has been working on the Warwickshire Barbastelle Project. Ben’s interests beside bats include birds, insects and plants.
Saturday saw the launch of the Batlas project with a training workshop at Sandwell Valley RSPB Reserve. The project involves a network of volunteers and aims to survey every tetrad (2km x 2km square) in Birmingham and the Black Country for bats within the next 7 years and use the results to create distribution maps for each species present.
Being new to BrumBats I arrived looking forward to meeting the group and getting to know some other bat enthusiasts. The afternoon began with an introduction to the Batlas co-ordinators, the three survey areas and instructions on how to carry out the surveys. Attendees were encouraged to meet their co-ordinator and take on at least one tetrad to survey for two nights in 2014. I chose to cover two tetrads close where I live but I overheard that some keen volunteers were taking at least 4. We then discussed between us over coffee and cake about where the best potential bat habitat in our area would be were planning to carry out the surveys.
The introduction was followed by an excellent and informative talk on bat echolocation led by Lisa Worledge (@BattyLisa). Lisa explained the components of bat sounds and how to recognise a few common bat species using a heterodyne bat detector. Having learned to rely on the frequency of calls, I found it very helpful to learn how to split apart bat calls by the rhythm or the length of call. We were aided by some very convincing bat impersonations by members of the group!
The evening concluded with a dusk walk around Forge Mill Lake although, unfortunately, the temperature dropped quickly and not a single bat was heard. Nonetheless at the end of the session, likely spurred on by the coffee and cake provided, the Batlas volunteers were all keen to get started by choosing survey spots and travel routes within their chosen tetrads. I already have some locations in mind and am looking forward to getting out on my bike and listening to some bats.
– Ben Wood