BATTY volunteers are needed for a survey of Warwickshire’s churches.
The Bats in Churches project is appealing for people in the county to come forward and help with the final year of the National Bats in Churches Survey – a project to discover more about how and why bats are using churches.
It is thought at least 60 per cent of pre-16th century churches in England house bat roosts, but the true figure could be much higher.
Bats in Churches, a partnership between heritage and conservation organisations is now calling for volunteers to search for serotines, peek for pipistrelles, hunt for greater horseshoes and nosy for noctules this summer.
Bats have been associated with churches for centuries. With complex structures packed full of nooks and crannies, not to mention churchyards bursting with wildflowers attracting insects for bats to eat, churches make ideal homes for these threatened animals that are so vulnerable to habitat loss.
Some of the nation’s churches are home to nationally and internationally important roosts.
The Bats in Churches survey began in 2019 and last year it discovered bats in just over half of the 219 churches surveyed and recorded a total of nine bat species, including some new to the study.
Overall, the survey has recorded a total of 13 different species of bats in churches. It has also learned that when bats were found in churches, multiple species were often present.
Claire Boothby, training and surveys officer at Bats in Churches, said: “If you have an interest in churches, bats or both I’d encourage you to get involved. The surveys are something that everyone can do, even if you are new to the world of bat surveys.
“The records will be key in telling us more about bats’ use of churches, including answering questions such as how many churches in England house bat roosts and which factors affect the likelihood of bats using these cherished buildings. The findings will go towards guidance documents to help churches and conserve both the buildings and the bats.”
Volunteer Kathy Warden took part in the survey last year.
She said: “Knowing how valuable churches can be for bats I thought this nationwide survey was a great opportunity to contribute and discover a bit more about our local bats at the same time. The best moment came after scouring the church for signs of bat activity to see a brown long-eared bat looking down from high up in the chancel roof. It couldn’t help but make anybody smile”
No experience is needed. Visit batsinchurches.org.uk/volunteer-bat-survey/ to sign-up and for more information.