The Norfolk Bat Survey – what we did in our Summer holidays

Some friends of ours at BK Franks tweeted about how the Norfolk Bat Survey were looking for volunteers across the county to take part and record which bats were active in their neighbourhood – how could we not be interested?

bats wide

It’s a collaboration between a number of groups including the UEA and the British Trust for Ornithology, based near Thetford, and basically repeats a survey previously conducted just in Norwich, but across the whole county (for a full list of supporting organisations, see their website here).  It was made as easy as possible for people like me to take part – so I had to book my square kilometre of Norfolk to survey, turn up to the local library to collect the gear and record over 3 nights.  The kit was a recording box and a microphone which you attach to the top of a stick.  What could possibly go wrong…

The only thing that didn’t work quite as well as it could have was the connection on the battery, which meant that the first night I didn’t manage to record anything.  After that small glitch, it all went swimmingly, with 2 willing neighbours volunteering to have the gear set up in their gardens as the survey needed 3 points within the same square kilometre.  Which ours weren’t, and I only realised that we’d managed to drift over into the next square kilometre when I was working out the grid references.

So over the 3 nights, 3 different types of bat were recorded – the Common Pipistrelle was recorded 279 times, the Soprano Pipistrelle 144 times, and there was a solitary Noctule Bat.  Of course, we had no idea about any of this, but now we’ve looked into it all a bit further.  The Common Pipistrelle is, as you’d guess, probably the most common bat in England but it’s also the smallest in Europe, it’s body being under 2 inches long, weighing up to 8 grams but with a wingspan of just under 10 inches.  The Soprano Pipistrelle isn’t much different but it’s call operates at a different frequency.  The Noctule is also quite common, is bigger and starts flying in early dusk, so we don’t have any unusual bats over here in Walpole St Andrew.

With bat populations declining everywhere, and relatively little known about them, knowledge is all important.  We didn’t have to put ourselves out to take part, we’ve found out a little bit more about the environment around where we live, and we may just have played a very tiny part in increasing the scientific body of knowledge about bats.  And it’s all down to Twitter…

Find out more about the Survey hereBK Franks is a Norfolk business creating beautiful things for you to enjoy, such as tshirts, bags and lots of other things.

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