Editor’s Note: From time to time we entertain guest articles. Today’s guest article was written by David Brown.
Types of Professional Bat Surveys carried out
Bat surveys can be done in different ways, including use of emergency surveys, ground surveys and aerial surveys. Bats roost in cracks and holes, and bat surveys in UK traditionally involved inspecting the dwelling places by use of binoculars. While this is sufficient for some cases, it is not for others. For instance, close inspection of some holes that might be suspected as rooting places for bats, shows that the holes are not used by bats at all. Close inspection might reveal that these bats are not as deep enough for use of bats. This necessitates aerial inspection of bats.
Bats can also be found in houses in roofs, under tiles and slates. They also live in gaps found in stones and behind fascias. They are most active during the summer season and hibernate during the winter season.
Aerial bat surveys can be done by having someone climb trees in areas being surveyed. This can allow a close identification of possible features suspected from ground surveys. In addition, this makes it possible to confirm presence of bats. This allows quicker understanding of the constraints involved.
Aerial bat surveys are considered superior to ground and emergency bat surveys because they can minimize the frequency of emergency bat surveys. A single aerial survey can allow the surveying expert to skip evening emergency bat surveys two or three times.
Purpose of Bat Surveys
Ecological bat surveys are used to assess how bat population is affected by various factors, natural and man-made. This can help to conserve bats as required by UK laws. Over time, bat populations have been affected by changing climate. The changing climate is responsible for a number of things, including lack of adequate food and prey and destroyed flight paths and root sites. There has been decrease of ponds, woodlands and hedgerows. The bat populations are also affected by loss of feeding habitats as a result of man-made activities such as erection of buildings, cultivation and destruction of bushes and forests. They are also affected by continued use of pesticides.
Importance of Professional Bat Surveying
With experience, professional ecologists can successfully identify bat habits and the risks involved. Professional bat surveys are licensed and involve use of professional tools such as cherry pickers to inspect trees. Professional bat surveyors will also use sensitive techniques and skills to fell trees and climb trees. Other tools used for surveys include bat boxes. Professional judgment in bat surveying must incorporate use of evidence as the basis and avoid bias at the maximum.
They must follow professional and legal procedures when carrying out nocturnal bat surveys, scoping bat surveys and risk assessment surveys. For instance, development work must be carried out after obtaining a license from the authorities, once a bat roost is identified. The Natural England, for instance, gives these licenses. In addition, surveyors must launch consistent surveillance. Professional surveys are either short or long term in nature, and must be planned for. The results must be interpreted for the intended use. Surveyors also develop reports to present to clients.
Professional bat surveys like Arbtech bat surveys can help uncover any possible risks that might affect development and planning, due to presence of bats. If there are no risks as found in the risk assessment surveys, this is reported in a report, and planning of the site can proceed. Presence of high or moderate risk should be enough grounds to proceed with nocturnal surveys.
Bat surveys must also be guided by knowledge of times and periods when it is possible to easily identify roosts and proceed with development work. For instance, nocturnal surveys are carried at dawn and/or dusk, as this is when bats come out of and return to development sites. In addition, May to September is the period when bats are most active, and it is the most appropriate for carrying out nocturnal surveys.
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