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The first survey into the night-time wildlife at Weston & Waverly Woods has revealed that the forest is a popular hang-out for bats.
Forestry Commission rangers conducted the undercover research with volunteers from the Warwickshire Bat Group and ecologists from the County Record Office.
They headed into the woods at dusk last month to record any sightings of bats and to hunt for potential roosting sites.
Results now show at least 100 bats inhabit the woodlands. Most of the bats found were Pipistrelle bats which are the smallest and most common species found in the UK.
The Forestry Commission’s Richard Hayden says:
“It was a very successful survey. There’s never been a bat survey undertaken in the woods here so it was very interesting to discover that there are quite a reasonable number of bats living here.
“Because there are no records it’s been a real plus to find out this information and it’s exciting to discover that there may even be some rarer species inhabiting the woods.”
Bats have suffered a dramatic decline in the 20th century and are on the European Protected Species list together with otters and the dormouse.
There are 17 species of bat in the UK, all protected by law because their numbers have decreased so dramatically.
The team used bat detectors to record the night time activity in the woods. These electronic gadgets can translate the high-pitched sounds that bats use to fly in the dark and feed into sounds within a human’s range of hearing.
All of the information gathered will be stored on file at the County Records Office. It will be used to help foresters introduce woodland management measures that help protect the bats. This will include steps such as installing additional bat boxes.
The Forestry Commission is committed to improving the biodiversity of England’s woodlands. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.
For further information on the Forestry Commission in the West Midlands visit: www.forestry.gov.uk/westmidlands
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The West Midlands region covers the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands conurbation.
Media contact: Richard Hayden on 01889 586593.