Bats about the village (and surrounding areas)
Over the last 28 years one of the PW&HG committee members, Tony Hutson, has been asked to visit many houses in and around the parish to advise about the bats there. Over these years, at least six bat species (of eight species recorded in the area) have been recorded.
Since 2011, Tony has been revisiting the 50 properties in Plumpton and adjacent parts of Streat and East Chiltington where bats were reported. So far he has revisted 32, all in Plumpton.
Pipistrelle bats (common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle) are the most common bats in Britain and can form quite large colonies in crevices around the outside of buildings. In Plumpton, 18 sites are recorded and 13 were checked in 2011. Small groups of bats (fewer than 10) were found at three sites, a major colony (100+) found early in the season at one site soon moved on, and no other major colony was located during the peak of the breeding season.
Brown long-eared bats are also quite abundant and widespread and are the most common species found in loft spaces in this part of the world. They tend to form small colonies of 10–30, who stay faithful to particular sites. They were thought to be present at 26 sites; of the 17 checked, bats were fond at 14. One loss was due to renovation work,
but the reasons for the abandonment of the other two sites is not known. Another site was lost shortly after the survey because of building works. Despite the losses, overall this is probably a very good result.
The serotine bat is very much a house bat restricted to the south of Britain, particularly the south east. It also forms smaller colonies of 15–30+ animals. It was known from 10 sites, although thought to be breeding at just two of these. Two sites were checked, one a well-monitored breeding site and the other a very minor site probably used as a temporary night roost. The bats were still present at the first site, but not at the second. Evidence was also found at two other sites where they had not previously been recorded. Two sites (churches) are used only in autumn and we were reliably advised that both were used in this year.
Two other species, whiskered bat and Natterer’s bat, are recorded from one or two properties and probably breed there, but these sites have not been checked. The finding of a noctule bat in one house was almost certainly a casual visit, as this species is generally confined to tree-roosting sites.
If you have bats (whether you think we know about them or not) and are interested in helping with the project, or if you don’t have bats in your own house but would be interested to help count somebody else’s bats, please email Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone him on 01273 890 341.
For more general information about the bats of Sussex visit the Sussex Bat Group. For a wider view and details of the National Bat Monitoring Programme visit the Bat Conservation Trust website.
Note: Bats are protected by law, even in private homes, so you must consult Natural England for (free) advice if you plan to do renovations, home improvements or other work that might affect them or their roost, including exclusion.
All photos ©FR Greenaway