Bats in woodlands course review – CIEEM/Jim Mulholland

At the beginning of August Senior ecologist Jo Greetham attended the CIEEM course “Surveying for Bats in Woodlands” by Jim Mulholland. The course was at Totworth Estate a fantastic part of Gloucestershire just off the M5. It was great to have some time to attend a course amongst the busy bat season and Jim had even made brownies….so I knew the course would be good!

Harp trap

The course was very relaxed with attendees from varied backgrounds with different amounts of bat knowledge which provided interesting debates and case studies. The two-day course was split into bat theory in the morning and a practical session in the afternoon and evening. The presentation made us all consider the ‘need’ for surveying, the outcome we would hope for and the best methodology and survey design to use to provide the most useful data.

In the afternoon we walked through a woodland deciding on potential places to locate the harp and mist nets ready for the evening bat trapping session. Once the nests were up we sat back and waited for the bats, when we caught one we all obeyed the rule of not saying the species which allowed us to follow the FSC guide to work out the species.

Barbastelle bat

The highlight of the course was to be able to handle barbastelle, Brandt’s bat and Bechstein’s bat. The barbastelle was radio-tagged and the following afternoon and evening we radio tracked it back to a tree roost and waited with infra-red cameras to see the bat emerge. Unfortunately, the barbastelle was roosting within a gnarly tree with multiple features and the bat emerged undetected.

I still left the course with a whole new skill set and a lot more knowledge and perhaps questions to consider when designing bat surveys of woodland. I would definitely recommend the course to anyone who is wanting to advance their knowledge on bats in woodland but beware you will definitely come away questioning the standard guidance and realising the more you delve into a subject the less you actually know.