Bath is most famous for its buildings and special landscapes, but it is also very special for its wildlife, particularly for its bats. The historic buildings, beautiful landscapes, the river corridor, and the city's industrial heritage all conspire to make it a very bat friendly city. These factors combine with city's location in the south west of England, the UK's bat heartland, to make a very special place for bats.
As a result the city is home to a surprising number of different species, and probably has been for hundreds of years. Some are very rare and endangered, or very scarce such as the Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bat, and some like the common pipistrelle are,.. more common! They are all an important part of the city’s biodiversity, important in their own right, but also as an indicator of the health of the city- If the city is good for wildlife like bats, then it will be delivering real benefits for for people too.
As times change and the city develops with new and exciting places for people to live and work, we need to make sure that bats can continue to thrive and share the city with us.
The regeneration is focussed along the river side and will see significant changes to the river corridor with derelict and industrial land being redeveloped to create new jobs and homes. Because of the way bats tend to use the river corridor we will need to plan and manage change carefully.
The river is particularly useful for bats because it has remained a surprisingly dark natural corridor through the centre of the City. The well vegetated and natural banksides provide good foraging habitats providing plenty of insects for the bats to eat. But, the river corridor also provides good access to other key foraging habitats such as cattle grazed pastures, hedgerow networks, woodlands in the wider countryside. It also provides access to a whole variety of bat roosts. Bats need different types of roosts depending on which species they, are and what time of year it is. They need hibernation roosts, day roosts, night roost, and maternity roosts. Depending on species type, they will use tree holes; roof spaces, and cellars, outhouses, outside toilet blocks, bridges, the underside of roof tiles, the cladding of buildings, rubble walls, caves and underground quarry sites. This is why the buildings of Bath, its diverse industrial heritage in the form of mining, quarrying and tunnelling into the surrounding limestone hills, and the network of green spaces across the city really make Bath a special place for bats.
The Horseshoe Bats in particular benefit from and are dependent upon the network of underground roost sites in buildings, mines and caves within and close to the City, as well as the networks of grazed pastures, woodlands and open spaces around the City. In fact some of the citys old stone mines are so important to these bats and that they have been designated as internationally important sites and form part of the Bath & Bradford Special Area of Conservation. The Horseshoe bats are not tolerant to high levels of light, so maintaining dark corridors at dusk and dawn is an important part of the strategy for making sure new developments are Bat friendly.
To help face the challenges of new development and maintain the city's bat interests the River Avon bat project was established. This project seeks to understand better how the bats use the river corridor and green links through the City, and to identify practical planning & design solutions to help achieve bat sensitive developments. The project involves intensive bat surveys; citizen science projects and reviews of best practice.
Ecologists from Clarkson & Woods have been helping with the River Avon Horseshoe Bats Study. Between April & October 2016, they are conducting detailed night time surveys to study the pattern of Bat activity up and down Bath River Avon. Bat detectors are used to record calls and build up a picture of where the bats are, when they are present and to indicate what numbers are present. Static bat detectors and walked transects are being used.
To find out more?
* River Avon Bat Project information posters - Bath Bats Posters 2 HF.pdf
Do you want to see Bats? Follow some of the Ecologists walks around Bath, bats are visible between April and October on these walked transects:
• Weston Park! Weston Park.Pdf
• Royal Victoria Park! Royal Victoria Park 1.Pdf
• Alexandra Park! Alexandra Park.Pdf
• River Corridor! River Corridor Locksbrook.Pdf
• Bathampton! Bathampton Down 1.Pdf
• Odd Down! Odd Down.Pdf
Contact the national bat helpline if you find any injured or vulnerable bats or are worried about works that will affect bats and their habitats- www.bats.org.uk/pages/helpline.html
Do you know a young bat enthusiast? Check out our bat web page with lots of information and fun activities!
Last updated: 6 April 2017