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Recent news from Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group. To find out more about what we get up to come along to one of our monthly meetings. You can view archived news items here.

13th January 2016

New Mammal Species for Derbyshire

A new species of bat, not recorded within Derbyshire since the last ice-age, has recently been recorded in the county. The rare barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus) is a woodland specialist and is very distinctive because it is the UK's only bat which has black fur. All our other species are brown or gingery in colour.

barbastelle bat

The echolocation calls were recorded by Derbyshire bat group member Matt Cook at a location in north-east Derbyshire. Barbastelles have been recorded in nearby Nottinghamshire for several years but no-one had recorded one in Derbyshire until one evening in September 2015 when Matt was out detecting bats in the area within his ultrasonic bat detector, following a tip-off from a nearby record made over the border in Nottinghamshire by an ecological consultant.

All British bats echolocate using ultrasound and bat conservationists use handheld detectors to listen to these calls to help identify which species they are listening to. The detector Matt was using was able to record the calls so that they could be further studied on computer software in more detail. The recordings were verified by the group's rare bats committee. Before this record, the last new mammal for Derbyshire was also a bat - the Nathusius' pipistrelle.

Barbastelles emerge from their roosts later in the evening as they are slow-flying and use this late emergence technique to avoid predation by predators such as tawny owls and hobbys. It has a distinctive pug-shaped nose and its ears are broad and joined at the base on top of the head. It mainly feeds on moths but will also feed on flies and beetles. It is one of Britain's rarest mammals with an estimated 5000 individuals in England and Wales (is it not found in Scotland or N. Ireland) and on average weighs about 10 grams (the same as a £1 coin).

This record is one of the most northerly encounters of barbastelle in England, its UK stronghold is in the southern half of England. It is commonly found elsewhere across Western Europe.

Matt said "The bat made several passes as it flew past me foraging in the area for insects. It is very exciting to know this rare mammal is foraging within the Derbyshire borders. We now need to establish whether there are suitable roosting sites in the Derbyshire area for them so that we can help conserve and protect them".

Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group is making steps towards working with the landowner to further study the area and its importance for bats.

Media Enquiries: Use our Contact form or Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group, c/o Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE.

The photo below shows a barbastelle bat with the distinctive pug-shaped nose
barbastelle bat

Notes to Editor:

1. Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group is an entirely voluntary organisation and a registered charity (No. 1139339).

2. We are a partnership group of the Bat Conservation Trust

3. Operating across the entire county of Derbyshire, our aim is to advance the protection and conservation of bats, their roosts, feeding areas, hibernation sites and surrounding environment in Derbyshire. We also educate the general public and group’s members in all matters related to bats.

4. We record and map the distribution of bats across the county. Our records database represents a unique resource for bats in Derbyshire and we provide data to conservation bodies and ecological consultants on a regular basis.

5. The group operates a number of bat box schemes in the county and we lead a number of public talks and evening bat walks throughout the summer months. Individuals undertake surveys, including a number for the National Bat Monitoring Programme, a national survey organised by the Bat Conservation Trust.

6. Natural England relies on a large network of voluntary bat wardens to visit concerned roost owners, all of which do this in their own spare time.

7. All UK bat species and their roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) and the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations (1994)

Bat Facts:

  • There are now 17 bat species breeding in the UK all of which are under threat from loss of habitat and changes in land use. 12 of these species are recorded within Derbyshire.

  • Like all mammals, bats are warm-blooded, give birth and suckle their young. They are very sociable animals, living together in colonies. They are long-lived (some can live for up to 30 years), are intelligent, highly mobile and more agile in flight than most birds.

  • Bats fly and feed in the dark, which they are able to do by producing a stream of high frequency calls and listening to the returning echoes which give a distinct ‘sound picture' of the surroundings. This is called echolocation, and can only be heard by humans through use of a device called a bat detector.

  • Bats in the UK eat only insects (such as midges, moths and mosquitoes), which they catch in flight or pick off water, foliage or the ground. The pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3,000 midges in one night – one-third of its body weight!

  • Declining bat numbers have made it necessary to legally protect all UK bats and also their roosts, whether they are in residence or not. This protection also makes it an offence to block their entrance and exit holes without seeking advice.

  • You can view other current news and event items here.