A full survey of bats and their habitats at Scotland’s only bat reserve at National Trust for Scotland’s Threave Estate near Castle Douglas is underway.
The survey, which started last Friday and finishes today, is the first to take place at the estate since it became the nation’s first ever dedicated bat reserve last summer.
A group of Thistle Campers (working holidaymakers) have been onsite at Threave this week, assisting with the work.
Opened with generous support from Scottish Natural Heritage, the reserve has become a centre of learning and research for the flying mammals and increase public awareness of how to live in harmony with these nocturnal animals.
Threave estate is home to seven species of bat, including the rare whiskered bat. The survey will look at all known roosts and species and note changes in populations and locations of bats and see if any new species have made Threave their home.
Nature Adviser Mr Lindsay Mackinlay said: “Threave’s a fantastic place to see bats as they love the rivers, water meadows, woodland and farmland which we have in abundance there. It is the ideal home for many species of bats. We are now keen to see how the bats are doing on the reserve since our last big check five years ago. Are there any new roosts and more bats? We’re also on the look out for any new species that might have made Threave home, especially given the exciting find of a parti-coloured bat on Arran recently!”
The survey looked at more than 50 built structures and trees where bats are known to roost.
Senior Ranger at Threave, Karl Munday continued: “The bat reserve is proving a big success at Threave. As well as contributing to the scientific study of these mysterious mammals, we are finding that the public are very interested in our bat tours and enjoy the opportunity to try out some bat scanning for themselves. This helps people understand the animals more and encourages their care and protection, which is good news for these small, vulnerable creatures.”
Both bats and their roosts are protected by law in the UK. Over the past century, their populations have suffered serious decline. Now there are signs which suggest that some species’ numbers are now starting to stabilise and recover.
Visitors to Threave can take part in a Bat Trail and learn more about where bats roost at the property and the seven species that can be found there. The Bat Mobile is packed with fascinating bat facts and visitors can also learn bat detecting skills and get their ear in at listening to different species of bats.
Bandit pipistrelle, Soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton’s, Brown long-eared, Noctule, Natterer’s and Whiskered bats all live at Threave.