Call for volunteers to survey local churches for bats this Summer

Published on: Friday, 13th May 2022
A bat survey underway

A nationwide project is appealing for volunteers in Erewash and the wider county to come forward and help with the final year of the National Bats in Churches Survey, an ambitious citizen science 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 intrepid 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 cosy nooks and crannies, not to mention churchyards bursting with wildflowers attracting tasty insects for bats to eat, churches make great homes for these threatened animals that are so vulnerable to habitat loss. Some of our churches are home to nationally and internationally important roosts.

The Bats in Churches survey began in 2019. Last year, bats were discovered in just over half of the 219 churches surveyed, with a total of nine bat species, including some new to the study.  For the first time, Brandt’s bat and whiskered bat were verified through DNA in their droppings which were collected during the surveys and there was a first recording of either Leisler’s bat or noctule, bats not normally associated with churches. 

Overall, a grand total of 13 different species of bats have been recorded in churches so far, with findings that, bats are founds, multiple species are often present with five different species in six churches across the country. 

In previous years, there has been the discovery of grey long-eared bats in a church in Devon – one of the rarest mammals in Britain.

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.’

By signing up to take part and survey your local church, you’ll be helping the Bats in Churches project understand more about how bats are using churches. This information will be vital not only for the future conservation of bats, a protected species, but also for church communities who can struggle with the mess created by bats.

Bats in Churches also works with more than 100 of the worst-affected churches in England, including St Peter in Netherseal. In October 2020 the Derbyshire Bat Group put half a dozen bat boxes on trees in the churchyard to provide alternative accommodation for the church’s brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats. 

No experience is needed to survey a church, you’ll find all the help and information you need online along with training videos and FAQs. To sign up, visit batsinchurches.org.uk/volunteer-bat-survey/

Share this story:

Tell us YOUR news...

If there's something happening in your area that matters to you and feel that the rest of the borough needs to know about it, tell US about it.