Sunny Side Up – part 10 of the Barbastelle Tracking Diary

A team of Woodland Trust and Natural England volunteers were back in action at the Bovey Valley Woods at the weekend. Their task on a bright spring day was to finish off hanging a set of bat roosting boxes in the trees along the Old Manaton Road. 40 boxes were already in place in Hisley Wood and along the river Bovey at Rudge Meadow, but this time, another 40 boxes were destined to be placed further along the Becka Brook.

volunteers getting ready
Volunteers preparing for work

During the barbastelle bat tracking study last year, this medieval byway was found to be the main commuting and foraging route for many bat species of the Bovey Valley. As the bats were being trapped and released throughout the summer, an astonishing list of ten different species were found to be using this tunnel through the trees. Only the barbastelles were tagged as they, being a rare woodland bat, were the subject of the research but the bat roost boxes will, it is hoped, be used by many different species.

Andy Carr finds the ideal location for a bat box
Andy Carr finds the ideal location for a bat box
Solar heated bat box
Solar heated bat box



















To help the volunteers in their work, the ‘bat man’ himself, Andy Carr from Bristol University joined the team for the day. His advice was to locate the boxes on the sunny side of the tree. He explained that “the active adult bats will look for a safe and warm shelter which will help them to conserve energy. The juveniles will get additional benefit from the sun’s heat as they are less able to regulate their body temperature. It will probably give them a better chance of survival.”

The full set of 80 boxes are now ready for the bats to use during the summer. While bats are roosting during the day the boxes will be inspected by a bat ecologist using a lightweight ladder and a torch. With these new roosting sites, the legacy of this study will be to improve the chances of survival of future generations of woodland bats.

To read the complete series of Barbastelle Tracking Diaries:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
For more information on ‘how to attract bats’ take a look at this Woodland Trust blog

Words and images for the Barbastelle Tracking Diary are by Matt Parkins

The Woodland Trust and Natural England are working together to improve wildlife habitats in the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve and the Moor than meets the eye project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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