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NEWS RELEASE No: 1355818 MAY 2010

Eyes peeled for new bat species

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Alcathoe bat in a woodland

Forestry Commission wildlife experts are keeping their eyes peeled for a new species of bat in the region.

Last month scientists at Leeds University revealed that they had discovered the so called Alcathoe bat in a woodland in the North York Moors - the first time the tiny flying mammal had been spotted in the UK.

Now they believe the creature could be lurking elsewhere, including North East England. Tom Dearnley, Forestry Commission Ecologist, said;

“One of the reasons the bat has gone unnoticed for so long is that it  resembles both whiskered and Brandt’s bats, both of which we have in Kielder Water & Forest Park.  There are no guarantees it’s here, but we’ll certainly be on the look out, especially in our ancient woodland areas.”

John Altringham, from Leeds University, added;

“We have bat recordings from both the Lake District and the north west  Yorkshire Dales that may be Alcathoe, so it would be no surprise if it rears its tiny head in the north east.  We read so much about species becoming extinct in the world, so it’s always nice to add another to the list.  But this of course also means that both whiskered and Brandt's are rarer than we thought as some of them are Alcathoe.”

Kielder Water & Forest Park has seven bat species with 18th century Kielder Castle Visitor Centre – a former hunting lodge of the Dukes of Northumberland – itself the home of pipistrelle and brown long-eared maternity colonies.   When the sun sets the bats emerge from under the roof in traditional Hammer House of Horror fashion!

Now nature fans can go batty by joining a public bat night on 22 May from 9pm at Kielder Castle.  Rangers equipped with special detectors will go in search of the creature as part of the Kielder Partnership’s Wild about Kielder season.

Richard Gilchrist, Chief Recreation Ranger, said:

“Kielder Water & Forest Park is choc full of wildlife and when the sun goes down the night shift takes in the shape of bats.  There are plenty of insects to feed on and over 120 bat boxes offering ready made homes. Bat night is a great way of finding out more.”

The event costs £5 adult, £4 concessions and £14 for a family of four.  Booking is required on 01434 250209.

Kielder Water & Forest Park was recently voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The Kielder Partnership is a public, voluntary and private sector collaboration working to develop Kielder Water & Forest Park as an inspirational place for leisure, exploration and fun.  Partners are the Calvert Trust, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Northumberland County Council, Northumbrian Water, plus representation from community groups.

Richard Darn on 01226 246351.  Mobile: 0775 367 0038.