BCT Bulletin

1. REFIT – EU Habitats Directive Review
REFIT is the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme. As part of this, consultants have been selected to carry out a review of whether the Birds and Habitats Directives are ‘fit for purpose’. All EU member states will be sent a questionnaire as part of the consultation, but 10 member states will be selected for a more in-depth stakeholder consultation. The UK is one of these 10 member states. It is expected that in addition to consulting Defra, the consultants will also speaking with another government department, a representative for environmental NGOs and a representative of business.

There will be a public consultation in April and we understand that will run for 12 weeks. BCT will be working with joint Wildlife & Countryside LINKS and our European partners (via Batlife Europe and European Habitats Forum) to make sure we get a strong response to this consultation. We will be encouraging bat groups and all our members, supporters and volunteers to respond to the consultation once it is live. We will send further details as soon as they are available – likely to be in late March.

2. Bat Crime Report
The latest Bat Crime Report, compiled by BCT’s Investigations Officer Pete Charleston, is now available on the BCT website at:

3. Vacancies at BCT
BCT currently has vacancies for Seasonal Helpline Officers and two internships (one with the Helpline and one with the National Bat Monitoring Programme team). Details of these are on our website at: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/vacancies.html (the deadline for applications for all of these posts are 9th March 2015).

4. Bat Officer Post with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust
The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust is recruiting for a Bat Officer to run a project in East Cleveland. Amongst the range of responsibilities will be establishing a new bat group for the local area. For more details see: http://www.teeswildlife.org/who-we-are/jobs/ (the closing date for applications is Friday 18th February).

5. Bat Species Champions (Scotland)
Our hearts were well and truly warmed by four out of six MSP (Members of the Scottish Parliament) bat species champions who helped create a short film voicing concerns over bats and climate change. The film clips will be released on 12th and 13th of February with links from the BCT Facebook page and our website http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/species_champions_.html

6. Help the Helpline this Summer
During the busy summer months (May to September) BCT runs an Out Of Hours (OOH) helpline, where volunteers answer emergency calls from the public in the evenings and over the weekends. Volunteers receive training in answering calls before the season begins, as well as full support from BCT staff throughout the season.

Common calls involve grounded or injured bats found by the public, bats trapped in people’s houses, newly-discovered roosts and planning and development queries. The OOH helpline can sometimes be challenging but also very rewarding. It would not be possible to run such a service without the volunteers and their help is hugely appreciated.

2014 was our busiest OOH season ever! Our volunteers took 2163 calls throughout the season! Further information about the project and the 2014 season can be found in the OOH Report 2014 on our website: www.bats.org.uk/pages/bat_helpline.html

How to Volunteer
We are now recruiting for the 2015 season. Please note that all participants will need to attend one of the two Out of Hours training days: 11th April 2015 (London) or 18th April 2015 (Manchester).

Please register your interest by getting in touch with Keiron Brown on 0845 1300 228 or by emailing kbrown@bats.org.uk

7. BCT Response to Matt Ridley Article in Times
Judging by the emails we have received and comments on social media, many of you will have seen the opinion piece in the Times at the end of January, written by Matt Ridley. Entitled “Its common sense: kill the rats, move the bats” it presented an ill-informed picture of the serious topic of bats in churches. We have posted a response to the article on our website at: http://www.bats.org.uk/news.php/263/bats_and_churches_a_response_to_the_times_opinion_piece_ (we also wrote to the Times. Our letter was not published but one from Prof. Paul Racey was).

Miles King, conservation expert and blogger, has also posted a more humorous response at:

8. Staff Profile: Philip Briggs
This is the third in an occasional series of BCT Staff Profiles for the bulletin (included at the request of a number of our readers). We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know the BCT staff a bit more and there are further staff profiles on the BCT website at: www.bats.org.uk/pages/whos_who.html

I’ve worked at BCT as part of the National Bat Monitoring Programme team since 2003 after I first got interested in bats in 2001 when I attended a bat walk at the WWT London Wetland Centre where I’m a volunteer tour guide. I was immediately hooked and the very next day I went online and ordered a bat detector. As I was keen and suitably equipped the site ecologist invited me to get involved in bat monitoring and public bat walks at the site. Before long I joined London Bat Group and also signed up to take part in NBMP surveys which helped me get the job of NBMP Survey Coordinator at the end of summer 2003. I remained in that role for a few years before stepping up to the role of NBMP Projects Manager.

I enjoy working in the NBMP team as it’s rewarding to be involved in the important work of monitoring how our bat species are faring across the UK. We are so lucky to have had thousands of dedicated volunteers over the years, without whom we wouldn’t be able to collect the data we rely on for producing annual species population trends.

One of the great things about working at BCT is that varied and sometimes challenging requests come my way, some of which I would never have imagined doing, such as bat detecting with Alan Titchmarsh in the garden at Buckingham Palace for a TV programme that went out on Christmas day after the Queen’s speech! My biggest area of interest is identification of bats from their calls and I enjoy delivering bat detector workshops in different parts of the UK and was pleased to be asked to contribute to a key reference book, Jon Russ’ “British Bat Calls”.

I’ve been a wildlife enthusiast from an early age and I recall one time in my teens standing by my local pond enjoying watching bats and wondering how you tell one species from another. If someone had told me that would be my job one day I wouldn’t have believed them! Despite my enthusiasm I didn’t initially consider the possibility of a career in wildlife conservation. I did an English degree and ended up working in publishing for about five years but the voluntary experience I was gaining with WWT during this period eventually enabled a career change when the vacancy at BCT came up. I find bats endlessly fascinating and even after 14 years I feel there is still so much to learn and discover. At the most basic level the appeal of bats for me is that they are among our most charismatic animals and the excitement I felt when I went on my first bat walk has yet to show any signs of wearing off!

9. Natural England Useful Links
We have updated the page on our website at: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/usefulnelinks.html with links to various teams in Natural England for volunteer support and licensing as well as relevant bat related web pages. This follows the move to the GOV.UK website of many of the Natural England web pages.

10. Trekking for Bats!
Do you like hiking and want to help raise funds for BCT? Organised by Global Adventure Challenges, Trekfest will allow you to take on the ultimate UK charity challenge in one of the UK’s most stunning National Parks. The aim is to complete your chosen distance within the allotted time frame. The challenges include treks of either 54 miles in 24 hours, 27/29 miles in 12 hours, or 13 miles in 6 hours, at either Brecon Beacons (6 & 7 June 2015) or the Peak District National Park (5 & 6 September 2015).

More details are on the BCT website at: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/trekfest-_hike_for_bct.html (BCT staff will also be putting together a team to take on one of the challenges!)

11. Key Dates for Your Diary
Watch this space for dates and reminders of conferences and other events you may be interested in. Please don’t forget you can get some extra publicity for your events by adding the details to the BCT website at: www.bats.org.uk/events.php

BCT Events
· 21 March 2015 – South West England Bat Conference. Bookings are now open, for more details see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/swconference.html
· 24 March 2015 **CHANGE IN DATE** – Wildlife and Transport Infrastructure Symposium, The Light, Friends House, Euston, London. Bookings for this event are now open. Follow the links from: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/wildlife_and_transport_infrastructure_symposium_2015.html
· 18 April 2015 – North of England Bat Conference. Hold the date – more details to follow! For information about the last event see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/northenglandconference.html
· 6 to 7 June – Wales Bat Conference, Stackpole Centre, Pembrokeshire. For more information see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/wales_bat_conference.html
· 11 to 13 September 2015 – National Bat Conference, University of Warwick. For more information see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/national_bat_conference.html
· 7 November – Scottish Bat Workers Conference, Battleby, near Perth. Hold the date – more details to follow! For more information about the last event see: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/sbc.html

Other Events
· 13 to 15 March 2015 – 4th International Berlin Bat Meeting: Movement ecology of bats. The aim of the event is to foster an exchange of ideas among international specialists working on bats in the context of movement ecology. If you would like more information please see the web pages at: http://www.izw-berlin.de/willkommen-330.html
· 21 March 2015 – ‘Eyes in the Field’ Wildlife Crime Conference, Buxton, Derbyshire. For more details see: http://birdersagainst.org/eyes-in-the-field-conference/
· 28 to 29 March 2015 – 61st Mammal Society Spring Conference, Lancaster University. More details are available at: http://www.mammal.org.uk/conference (note the event is proceeded by a one day student’s conference on 27 March)
· 23 to 25 April 2015 – A Question of Ecology – answers from biological recording, University of Sheffield. A conference organised by the National Forum for Biological Recording and the British Ecological Society. More information is available at: http://www.nfbr.org.uk
· 19 & 20 June 2015 – Refloating the Ark: Connecting the public and scientists with natural history museums, Manchester Museum. A two‐day meeting exploring how natural history museums can contribute towards environmental sustainability, by engaging effectively with the public and the scientific research community. For more information please email henry.mcghie@manchester.ac.uk
· 13 to 15 July – The 3rd international conference on Spatial Ecology & Conservation, University of Bristol. There is currently a call for abstracts and more information about the conference is available on the conference website at: http://www.ert-conservation.co.uk/sec3_introduction.php

A rolling 12-months of the bulletin are available on the BCT website at: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/back_issues_of_the_bat_group_bulletin.html (bulletins are added a week or two after being circulated to bat groups).

Kind regards,

Lisa Worledge
Partnerships Officer
Bat Conservation Trust, Quadrant House, 250 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5RD