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The average bat's year:

Late autumn to late spring is hibernation, but they will come out to look for a drink or food if necessary.

Maternity roosts begin forming in May. A single pup is born in early July (rarely twins) and by three weeks, the pups are begining to fly. They will start to leave the roost to forage at 5 weeks (mid-August).

The males live on their own or in small roosts and seek out the females in spring and autumn.

There are 17 breeding species of bats in the UK - one of which was only confirmed at the start of 2010 with records for a further 13 non-breeding species which include 5 American species.

Bats will fly through out the year, but February is the month you are least likely to see a bat.

Bat watchers also get to see owls, badgers, foxes and otters
.
Horseshoe bats are more closely related to fruit bats than vesper bats.

ALL bats and their roosts are protected by UK and European law.

The largest known "roost" is of straw coloured fruit bats, that assemble in numbers of 5 to 10 million in Kasanka National Park, Central Zambia from October to January - during which time it is estimated that they eat 262,000 tonnes of fruit and distribute a lot of seeds!

The largest known roost in the UK contains 1800 to 2000 greater horseshoe bats.


(1) The Law

(a) The “Habitats Directive

Bats are a European Protected Species, included in Annex 4 of Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) (21/05/1992)- referred to as “Microchiroptera”. The Directive is what people refer to as the “Habitats Directive”.

Article 12 sets out legal protection for bats and their roosts.

Under Annex 2 it also sets out which bat species can have Special Areas of Conservation designated for them- Greater horseshoe, Lesser horseshoe, Barbastelle and Bechstein’s. 

 
(b) The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended)

The Habitats Directive is translated into UK law by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010

Schedule 2 confirms Bats are European Protected Species

Regulations 40-43 sets out how bats and their roosts are protected.

Regulation 9 places a duty on authorities to have regard for European Protected Species in decision making.

Regulations 53-58 cover licenses.

 (c) The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)

See Section 9 for bats- only9(4)(b), 9(4)(c) and (5) cover bats now. The rest of the section was superseded by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations.

 (d) How is this all put into practice?

For more information go to the Government’s following webpage: Bats: protection, surveys and licences

Bat Conservation Trust have also produced guidance- click here.

(e) Crimes against bats.

Bat Conservation Trust have produced guidance on how to report crimes- click here.

 
(2) Planning

See Regulation 9 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 which sets out the duty placed on authorities regarding European Protected Species.

Also see Chapter 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Now go to Protected species and sites: how to review planning proposals for advice on how bats need to be considered in planning proposals.

You may also find the following useful: http://www.biodiversityplanningtoolkit.com/bats/bio_bats.html

Published by the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) in 2011, it’s a bit out of date but still useful.

You may also find the following document of interest:  After Morge: What is the planning system’s role?  Published by LandMark Chambers.

 
 If you have any concerns about a planning proposal contact the relevant Council and ask to speak to their ecologist. If you are in our area ( Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) then you can also contact the Avon Wildlife Trust- they have a planning team and have produced some useful guidance

Useful links

Wild about Britain- all about British wildlife and the environment

Bat Conservation Trust- only UK charity dedicated to bats - Bat Helpline 0845 1300 228

Arkive- images of life on Earth

Neighbouring Bat Groups:

Dorset Bat Group (www.dorsetbatgroup.org.uk)

Gloucestershire Bat Group (www.glosbats.org.uk)

Somerset Bat Group - www.somersetbatgroup.org.uk

Wiltshire Bat Group

South Wiltshire and Distict (Five Rivers Association) - www.bats.org.uk/pages/five_rivers_association.html

Sonogram Software

Wavesurfer - which is free, although there is a minor issue in that you can't re-scale for frequency division (FD) so just multiply all observed frequencies by ten.