Wildlife Acoustics | Bioacoustic monitoring systems for research, science, industry and governments.

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Devon Bat Survey (part of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project)

Ruth Testa
Devon Wildlife Trust

Devon Bat Survey

Survey kit including SM4BAT recorders ready for sending to keen volunteers (credit – Ruth Testa/DWT)

Devon Bat Survey

One of many happy volunteers receiving survey kit and ready to play their part! (credit – Helen Parr/DWT)

Devon Bat Survey

Monitoring centres map (credit – Ruth Testa/DWT)

Since the grant was awarded we have been busy using our SM4 detectors and the new microphones. They have been out as part of two citizen science winter research surveys – why leave the detectors idle all winter?! – looking at landscape usage by greater horseshoe bats in the colder months. We are just starting to analyze the results and have picked up lots of recordings. Unfortunately we have lost some as the batteries are losing voltage in the really cold weather – but we hope to be able to report on the findings over coming months.

The project team are just gearing up to the start of our main citizen science programme – the Devon Bat Survey! The idea behind this is that anyone can take part by borrowing a bat detector from one of our 20 monitoring centres and surveying a chosen 1km grid square. Bookings opened two weeks ago and over a third of the 991 slots are already booked for this summer! The detectors and all the kit are in the process of being taken out to the monitoring centres, ready for the first sessions to start on March 29th. We are looking forward to getting the first sound files back for analysis and seeing if we can add to our knowledge of where Devon's bats are!

We're now two months into the 2018 Devon Bat Survey and 658 people have requested a square to survey – an amazing two-thirds of available booking slots! The project team has been busy supporting the 20 Monitoring Centres (see map with this report), dealing with any queries from surveyors and processing the returned data cards. A volunteer assists in downloading the data and returning the SD cards to the centres to ensure the smooth running of the survey. Tweaks and updates to last year's survey have helped to improve the efficiency and running of the survey.

Feedback from surveyors is very positive overall – they find that the instructions are clear and the equipment is easy to use. We have started to send out reports to those who have taken part – most people are amazed at the variety of bat species using the countryside near their homes – up to 10 or 12 species in some cases. Data from the winter surveys will be collated and analyzed; this all takes time as records needs verifying. Overall, this is a popular project that people all across the county are keen to get involved in.