Photos above: Left - catching bats for a long running ringing study; Right - Checking a tree hole with an endoscope
The Kent Bat Group aims to work for the conservation of bats in Kent. This work varies from raising awareness of bat issues, to surveying and monitoring bat populations, and caring for grounded bats.
Try making the Kent Bat Box – a simple construction that has a good track record for bat use. And if you do get bats in it please let us know.
Here are some examples of what KBG members get up to!
- Giving talks to schools and groups
- Manning the KBG stand at the Kent County Show and other events
- Surveying hibernation sites in winter
- Summer surveying and taking part in the National Bat Monitoring Programme
- Leading and participating in bat walks for the public
- Caring for sick and injured bats, then hopefully returning them to their roosts. There is a video of a baby bat being fed by one of our members here.
- Natural England roost visitor licence holders visit concerned householders to advise on bats in buildings.
Recent projects include:
- Creating a flight cage so we can soft-release rescued bats: See VIDEO of BBC 'Inside Out' featuring the cage at Wildwood. Scroll down for information on a successful soft-release from the flight cage.
- Harp trapping swarming bats at Westerham Mines
- Ringing serotine bats at a large roost
- Putting bat friendly entrance grills over cave and dene hole entrances
- Surveying for Bechsteins bats in woodlands
- Bat box study of woodland bats
Information on many of the projects the Bat Conservation Trust runs, several of which we are involved in, is here.
First successful soft-release from the Kent Bat Rehabilitation Centre
A juvenile brown long-eared, found in Rochester, came into care with an injured leg in July 2010. We were not sure if she had learnt to fly or catch her own food or where the maternity roost was. The leg slowly recovered and we moved her into the flight cage at Wildwood the following year. She lived in the heated bat box during the day and was able to practice catching insects and improve her flying and echolocation skills at night. When we felt she could be self-sufficient in the wild we built a small wooden soft release box for her. She was put into this inside the flight cage for 10 days. She often moved back into the large heated box during the night but we moved her back in the morning.
On 9th September 2012 the box with the bat was moved to the outside of the flight cage. Dishes of water and mealworms were put inside. She was found in the box the following two days but then left. Mealworms were supplied every day and she continued to visit the box to eat them until 19th September. After this there were some nights when the food was left, perhaps because she was finding enough natural food or was staying in torpor overnight due to poor weather conditions. From 11th November to 30th April no food was taken and she was not seen in the box. We put some Schwegler woodcrete bat boxes up in the woods nearby to provide roosting places. These were checked in the autumn but no bats found.
On first May, to our surprise the mealworms were being taken again. My colleague was sceptical that it was the long-eared as there were lots of wood ants in the box which could have been taking them. There was an opportunistic robin hanging around too. She set up a camera trap near the box and to our amazement we caught the long-eared entering the box in the early hours of the morning. Her movement was very fast but I managed to freeze a frame on the video and could just make out the ring on her left forearm. We think that she must now be feeding herself in the wild but like all the grounded bats that we have received this year she was struggling to find enough food due to the cold, wet, windy spring and lack of insects.
She is still visiting the box regularly for food. We hope that she will find a local maternity roost to join.
PHOTOS BELOW: Showing a bat at the county show; Setting up a data logger in an underground site