NATURE enthusiasts are urging people to help investigate the county’s population of bats as several rare species have been sighted in Northamptonshire.
The latest survey, carried out by the Northamptonshire branch of the Wildlife Trust, identified five different bat species flying over Pitsford Reservoir, which included rare breeds like the Serotine bat and the Noctule bat.
Henry Stanier, ecology groups officer for the Wildlife Trust, said: “We have recorded five species at Pitsford; the Serotine, Daubenton’s bat, Noctule, Common pipistrelle and Soprano pipistrelle. We also spotted these species, apart from the Serotine, at Summer Leys, along with an unidentified species which we think is a relative of the Daubenton’s bat.
“It is the first time we have picked up a Serotine bat, which is not usually seen in this area and is more common in the warmer south.
“Record numbers of the rare Barbastelle bats have also been found underground this winter, just across the Northamptonshire border.
“But without doing more surveys it is hard to discover how many bats are in the county. We are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in our surveys to help find out more information.”
The Northants Bat Group, which has been carrying out bat surveys in Northamptonshire for the last 20 to 30 years, confirmed there were 12 species which have been spotted in the county, with sights of four rare bats, the Serotine, Barbastelle, Leisler’s bat and Nathusius’ pipistrelle.
However the group’s chairman, Phil Richardson, has said the continued expansion of housing in the county is putting them at risk.
“It is almost impossible to tell how many bats we have in Northamptonshire. They tend to use roosts like hotels and so it is difficult to gauge figures. It takes about 10 years to survey bats,” he said.
“We do get occasional sightings of more rare species, but it can be hard to tell if they are rare or restricted in habitat, but we are seeing these four rarer bats annually.
“The problem is bats are slow breeders and they don’t adapt quickly enough. They do better in quieter areas and we have lost a lot of habitats in Northamptonshire due to developments.”
To volunteer to take part in bat surveys or to find out about adopting a bat to help protect their habitats visit www.wildlifebcnp.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org