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Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom
FSC Preston Montford has been an outdoor classroom since 1957 and is a Field Studies Council centre. We deliver curriculum related outdoor education by the experts; from pre-school to Masters level; for infants, school students, undergraduates and enquiring adults with an interest in the natural world. Courses for schools and individuals. A venue for others to use; with bed space for 130, catering facilities and 7 fully equipped teaching and meeting spaces.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Going batty at FSC Preston Montford

After attending a four day bat identification course at FSC Preston Montford, during which the class identified a Pipistrelle roost on site, I offered to monitor the roost for the purposes of the National Bat Monitoring Programme run by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Bat detector, taken by Charlotte Timerick
Thus on the second weekend in June, I sat outside the roost and settled down to begin counting bats. I was accompanied by Charlotte Timerick, a Tutor at FSC Preston Montford, and Lisa Worledge, the leader of the course. Ten minutes after sunset, our first bat emerged; a lone Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) dropped out of the building and flew off without producing a call. Five minutes later, a second bat followed the first, and that was the last of them. Lisa explained that the small number of bats meant that it was probably lone males or non-breeding females in the roost at this time.

Our second visit took place two weekends later. This time we had lost Lisa but gained two new volunteers, therefore enabling us to spread out and cover more possible exit points to the roost. After a quick search of window ledges, which revealed evidence of bat droppings, we settled down facing two sections of the building. Five minutes after sunset, our first bat emerged from close to the previously identified exit point. This was the only bat to emerge from this side of the building. Five minutes later, two Pipistrelles emerged together from the second section of the building, proving that our identification of other exit points had been successful. These were the last bats to emerge from this roost. 

We will return again next year, to see whether the use of the roost remains limited to lone individuals or becomes much busier.

By Sam Devine-Turner

National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP)

Bat numbers in the UK have declined dramatically over the last century. The NBMP aims to monitor the numbers of bats and help work towards establishing a stable population. To find out how you can participate in the programme or to find out more about these amazing flying mammals, please click on the following link: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp.html.

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