Roost Manuva

The Reremouse

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…

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An app-etite for science


Those of you who follow BrumBats on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will be aware that we were out in force in 2017 doing a lot of surveys. What you may not realise is that the WAY we are recording our survey data is changing! We are in the middle of a year’s trial of the fabulous Conseris app (for Android and iOS), a data collection app that we’ve been adapting for use during bat surveys like bat box checks, mist netting and harp trapping. We’re even thinking about using it for bat care records!


The app is very user-friendly. The first thing you do is to set up your data collection. What do you want to record? Do you want it to be text-entry or multiple choice, etc? You set up those parameters (above, left) and they appear when you download the dataset onto your app. My favourite thing is that you can have nested questions – ones that are hidden unless the previous question is answered in a certain way. For example, if you say the age of a bat is a juvenile, it won’t ask you about breeding condition or pregnancy! It keeps things short and sweet when they need to be, and detailed when more information is needed.


Of course, it’s fun using it in the field, but the really cool stuff happens in the Conseris website, where you can explore your data, create graphs and export. So, for example, if I wanted to look at all of the records of Noctule and which style of bat box they are in, I can do exactly that! Likewise, at the end of the year, I can tell each one of my trainees how many bats of which species they have handled and processed.

I can’t wait to get out in the field and complete a whole season’s data collection using the App, and I will, of course, report back. But in the meantime, I’m being interviewed tonight for the new Conseris podcast, so keep an eye on social media for the link to listen!

-Morgan Hughes (Chair, BrumBats)



I Like Big Bats (& I cannot lie)

The Reremouse

So I’ve had a bit of a hiatus from blogging and social media, due to personal reasons, but I have lots to share with you and catch up on – not least, the significant finds as part of the BrumBats Batlas project and our bat box scheme. I’m going to blog this weekend about our second (and most exciting) discovery, but for now I want to talk about big bats.

There are three closely-related species of bat which are generally lumped together as being our ‘big bats’ in the UK: serotine (which I’ll focus on another time), noctule and Leisler’s bat. The latter two species are pictured below, and are superficially similar. They are both quite chunky bats, with the tragus (the flap of skin inside the ear) shaped like a mushroom, but the noctule is larger (weighing in at up to 40g – twice the weight of a Leisler’s) with paler (often gingery) fur…

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I have said “yes” to the ever persuasive and enthusiastic Morgan and we are going to make a recording and thus a podcast of the BrumBats “Introduction to bat care training”, so more people can access it.

Morgan and her husband P have done all the hard work, set up “the studio” in their sitting room and got all the power point slides together, made flapjack and tea.

I need to turn up looking presentable in case Morgan takes photos…of course she will, and sit on the sofa and chat about bats; not too hard then.


We are going to make the podcast so that people can access it on line and be informed about the basics and have time to reflect on if these roles are really for them. Usually when we have taught this sort of course, the first back in 2007, we have tried hard to put people off because it is not for everyone. It can be distressing at times and success rates, although improving, are not great. Plus saving one bat is protection but saving a roost or a habitat is conservation and that is ultimately more helpful to bats. So there are some arguments against bat care. But the main reasons bats come into care are down to things that humans are probably responsible for, so it does seem only fair to try and redress the balance.

Once people have gone through the on line course then they are better set to decide on the next steps, if any, for them and come along to more practically orientated courses.


So, sit on the sofa, close to Morgan so we can both see the laptop and are both close to the microphone and its shield. P. tells us this will make us sound balanced….really? We are unbalanced by years of bat care this is not going to change things. But sitting next to each other and looking at the slides and photos makes the words come and the memories flow and we can chat and interact and add a few stories and so the recording builds a slide and a track at a time.

We stop a few times and go back when sounds from outside like an ice cream van get on to the recording, it is an amazingly sensitive set up that P. has built. After about 3 hours we have it recorded and now P. and Morgan have the job of editing it down to a course.


We hope that soon prospective BrumBats  bat collectors and carers  will be able to access the podcast and slides on Youtube and it might help other bat groups too. We look forward to hearing how you find the course.

My thanks to Morgan and P for a very nice  afternoon.

by Chris Sherlock

* The course has been edited together and you can now see the two podcasts on youtube:

Tiny Wood, Big Bats

The Reremouse

Friday night was the third in a series of four woodland bat surveys that the Herefordshire Mammal Group are doing for us. The first was at Merrions Wood, the second was at Sutton Park, and the third at Cuckoos Nook & the Dingle. I was particularly excited about this survey as we knew virtually nothing about the bat species on site, as the woodland – you can see me talk more about the unique geology and flora of the site here on the 2011 Raising the Barr video – is a bit remote, and so the survey involved carrying LOTS of equipment over fields and down into the Dingle.

As well as Denise & David from the Herefordshire Mammal Group, and John from the Shropshire Bat Group, I was joined by @MelodyJoans@JakeLo65@TeganFell@Scott_DPTG@WalsallHeaths and @ChaseRanger for a night of batty awesomeness.

In just a…

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Bat Centre TV

The Reremouse

I was very privileged this week to once again represent BrumBats on TV. I popped into BigCentreTV in Walsall on Thursday to appear as the guest on their evening news programme.  I was interviewed by the incredibly friendly Monica Plaha. The lovely staff there have edited together the three interview segments and you can watch them on youtube here:

It was the third time I’ve been invited by local media to talk about the work that BrumBats do. You can watch the other videos below:

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The Sopranos

The Reremouse

Today was graduation day in the BrumBats flight cage, where we moved 8 common and 3 soprano pipistrelle bats into the flight (which is basically an aviary in which we teach orphaned bats to fly). There are another 15 bats waiting to move in, but they need to be self-feeding on mealworms before that’s possible. I took a few photos of our new residents, and thought I’d take a minute to show you the difference between our two most abundant pipistrelle species (there is a third, Nathusius’s Pipistrelle, which is larger and rarer – and I’ve never even seen one!)

The following photos are all common pipistrelles – they have a dark face (aka the bandit pipistrelle) and quite perky ears.

Now, if you compare the common pipistrelle (below, left) to the soprano pipistrelle (below right), you can see that the soprano is pinker in the face, paler in general…

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Serotine, Serotine

The Reremouse

This is Vlad.  If you’ve seen me do a bat talk this year, you will have met him – he has been staying with me since the summer when he came up from the Avon Bat Group to spend a few weeks in the flight cage.  Alas, he would not fly at all, and it was looking quite likely that he’d go back down to Avon to become a permanent education bat. Today he had his first chance to use the flight cage since he came out for the winter in October, and to everyone’s surprise, flew perfectly well and actually seemed to enjoy himself!

Vlad is a Serotine (Eptesicus serotinus), which is one of our largest UK bat species.  His overall size and appearance (and if you heard him, his echolocation) are very similar to a Noctule bat, but he’s actually a different genus.  Serotines are one of…

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Everybody was Wu Fu Fighting

The Reremouse

Next time you’re in London, I’d highly recommend popping into the V&A Museum (its right next to the Natural History and Science Museums).  Walk down the awesome (yet, not too ostentatious) hall of sculptures, and pop into room 44, the China exhibit, and start looking for bats!

Rather than the ‘creatures of the night’ and harbingers of doom/dracula/general spookiness that they are here in the West, bats in China are seen as a symbol of good luck.  The Chinese word for ‘bat’ is ‘fu’, which is (effectively) the same as their word for ‘fortune/luck’ (the pronunciation is the same but the symbol very slightly different).  As such, bats can be found in art, carvings, ceramics, paintings and embroidery (from the 17th century onward), and particularly in ceremonial objects.

Bats are often pictured in groups/circles of five bats in the symbol ‘Wu Fu’ (Five Fortunes), which are Happiness, Health, Wealth, Longevity…

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Midlands Bat Conference 2014

On Saturday 26th April BrumBatters met up at with other batty kind at the Midlands Bat Conference in Warwick. The Regional conferences are held every two years and feature talks, workshops and ‘spotlights’ on local bat groups.

It was great this year to see a blend of strategic bat conservation at the national level, headed up by a talk from Carol Williams, the Director of Conservation at BCT, academic studies and innovative projects being carried out at the local level. Two Brumbatters gave talks: Rachel Fryer on her undergraduate project looking at emergence behaviour of Natterer’s and Brown Long-Eared roosts; and Morgan Bowers on the evolution of the Flight Cage.

(c) Mike Ryan

Morgan Bowers talking about ‘Flight Club’. (c) Mike Ryan

I gave an update on our Batlas Project – two years ago we were at the planning stage, and on the 26/04/14 we were a few days off our official launch! Each bat group’s activities reflected their geography (from largely rural Lincolnshire covering a huge area to urban Brum) and their core members (from consultants, to academics and amateur enthusiasts). It shows that anyone can get involved in bat conservation, and you pick up your knowledge and contribute your expertise from other fields as you go along.

(c) Bat Conservation Trust

Rachel Fryer’s talk on roost emergence behaviour. (c) Bat Conservation Trust

Workshop topics included sound analysis, bat parasites, research techniques and how bats use buildings. I learned more about domestic architecture and the nooks and crannies bats can wedge into – if your thumb can fit into a hole, then a smaller bat species can make its way in!

I hope in two years’ time to give an update on our Batlas findings, and lessons learned from the surveys – and see if the more elusive species have been found in our urban and suburban quarters.