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Kent Bat Group

What we do

The Kent Bat Group (KBG) aims to work for the conservation of bats and their habitats in Kent. This work varies from raising awareness of bats through talks to a wide range of audiences, to surveying and monitoring bat populations and to caring for grounded bats.

Since KBG’s formation in 1983 we have built up a dataset of more than 30,000 bat records. This vital resource is held at KMBRC and is consulted by developers, land managers and researchers, amongst others. Every record is valuable so please send details of any bats you see to records@kentbatgroup.org.uk

The KBG networks with other wildlife charities and land managers to conserve roost sites and bat habitat. We produce a quarterly newsletter for members with up to date news and information.

Here are some examples of what KBG members get up to:

Giving talks to schools and groups
Manning a KBG stand at public events
Taking part in BCT's National Bat Monitoring Programme including:

Caring for and rehabilitating sick and injured bats, then, hopefully, returning them to their roosts. There is a dedicated KBG flight cage at Wildwood where recovering bats can be prepared for release. There is a video of a baby bat being fed by one of our members here.

Some KBG members are licensed by Natural England as voluntary bat roost visitors to help householders who are concerned about bats in their homes. They can be contacted through BCT's Helpline (0345 1300 228)

A sample of current projects and surveys which KBG members may get involved with are detailed below. We depend on our members to volunteer to help us - we would be unable to achieve our aims without them. We welcome volunteers with a range of abilities and levels of experience and do our best to involve as many as possible.

If you would like to volunteer, please complete this form (ensuring your membership is current) and return it to us.

Many thanks to all our members and volunteers for assisting with the group's projects and activities!

Counting soprano pipistrelles
Counting soprano pipistrelles as they emerge from their maternity roost in June
© Shirley Thompson
Looking and listening to Daubenton's bats
Looking and listening to Daubenton's bats on the river at Canterbury
© Shirley Thompson
Searching for hibernating bats
Searching for hibernating bats in a disused railway tunnel
© Brett Lewis

National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project (NNPP)

The National Nathusius' Pipistrelle Project aims to improve the understanding of the ecology, current status and conservation threats for Nathusius' pipistrelles in Great Britain. In the UK this species was considered a migrant winter visitor until the late 1990s.

The project is administered by BCT. A number of Bat Groups are taking part including the KBG, which has been involved since the project started in 2014. All work is carried out under a Natural England project license.

Four core sites in Kent were selected for repeat surveys over the summer, all water bodies where there were existing records of the species. At each site, two sets of trapping equipment are used, each set comprising a harp trap and an acoustic lure. Measurements of bats trapped are recorded, and all Nathusius' pipistrelles are ringed.

Results so far show Kent to be on an important flight path for this migratory species. An amazing 53 Nathusius' pipistrelles were trapped and ringed on a memorable October evening in 2016. In the same year, two bats ringed in Lithuania were trapped in Kent.

Lithuanian ringed Nathusius pipistrelle
Lithuanian ringed Nathusius pipistrelle
© Katheryn Leggat

Small Myotis project

Whiskered, Brandt's and Alcathoe bats are very similar in appearance and habits. The Alcathoe bat was only recognised as a UK resident in 2010. This project aims to find out more about the ecology and distribution of all three small Myotis species in the UK. For KBG, first participating in the NNPP in 2016, it was also an opportunity confirm the presence of the Alcathoe bat in the county.

Owing to group commitments, this project is not expected to run in Kent during 2018, though it will continue in other counties. It may restart in Kent in 2019.

Long-term serotine study

Serotine bat
Serotine bat
© Shirley Thompson

A maternity roost in east Kent is providing important information on longevity and breeding success.

Since 1987 adults and juveniles are netted as they emerge, usually in early August, and ringed if not previously trapped. Bats are weighed, sexed and breeding condition noted. Some individuals ringed over 14 years earlier have been retrapped.

Serotine bat data recording
Data recording
© Shirley Thompson

Bat Box Projects

KBG has two bat box schemes running in the east and west of the county. The project in the west is specifically aimed at the Bechstein's bat, as a lactating female was found in the BCT Bechstein's bat project. The Bechstein's bat is one of the rarest mammal species in the UK.

The project in the east of the county is focused upon woodland bats, in particular Natterer's bat. We hope to get a better picture of the use of the habitat by woodland bat populations in order to inform management plans.

Try making the Kent Bat Box - a simple construction that has a good track record for bat use. And if you do get bats in it please let us know by emailing records@kentbatgroup.org.uk.

Batbox at farthings wood.
Bat box check
© Jill Tardivel