An Introduction to the Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Project
Welcome to the first blog from the Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Project. Supported and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is an exciting new venture which started this year as a collaboration between Bat Conservation Trust and Natural England.
The main objectives of the project are to learn how bats use the interior of woodlands that have been actively managed, to learn how bat activity differs between the understory and the canopy, and to raise awareness about a natural heritage with help from the local community. The project will focus on Swanton Novers National Nature Reserve, an 83ha ancient woodland with a long history of active woodland management dating back to the Doomsday Book. As I don’t want to repeat myself more information about the project can be found here - www.bats.org.uk/swanton.
Since the start of the project we have deployed static detectors three times and have carried out transect surveys throughout Swanton Novers Great Wood in Norfolk during May and June.
April transect surveys were unfortunately cancelled due to cold evening temperatures and chilly winds. For May, the transect surveys coincided with the emergence of the cockchafer beetles (also known as May bugs), which provided a feast for the serotines and noctules emerging from the woods and a feeding frenzy was observed by the lucky surveyors. Within the centre of the woods we picked up a few barbastelles and of course plenty of pipistrelles, while down in the bottom part of the woods where a few active coppice compartments are located, only pipistrelles were detected.
June transect surveys haven’t been analysed yet, but barbastelles were recorded in the top section of the woods.
We have also recruited seven volunteers from the local community and seven volunteers from further afield. And as I write this blog we have another interested volunteer who lives in a nearby town, not too far from the woods. Volunteers who have helped us with the transect surveys in May and June have learnt how to use a Peersonic detector and observe bat activity along the predetermined routes. Also, I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all our volunteers for all their help. In total, volunteers have contributed 104 hours (13 working days) to the Swanton Novers Woodland Bat project so far.
Our plans for the next few months
We have a Community Day planned for Sunday 7th of August in the woods. An ideal opportunity to learn more about the woods and how bats use the area, the day will offer a butterfly walk, minibeast hunting, a bat walk and moth trapping sessions, together with informative displays and activities. It is also an opportunity to meet the seasonal warden, who holds a wealth of information about the reserve having worked in the woods for 20 years.
We will also be running a bat walk in August in the woods and two offsite bats walks in September. Events will be posted on the Swanton Novers webpage on the BCT website at www.bats.org.uk/swanton.
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