Bats In Churches

INTRODUCTION

Norfolk has a large number of mediaval churches and the majority of these have bat populations present. The age of the churches means that they require constant repair and these works can have a significant effect on the bat populations present if not managed effectively. Over the past 3 years, Philip Parker Associates have given advice on over 50 Norfolk Churches, some of which have significant bat populations including some less widespread species such as natterer’s and serotine, as well as pipistrelles and brown long eared.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

Bat surveys in churches take 2 forms,

  • Physical survey which concentrates on finding evidence of the bats present, species, talking to cleaners to find evidence of dropping accumulation which might point to where roosts are present;
  • Emergence and return to roost surveys to ascertain exactly how the bats are using the churches. The use of churches can vary throughout the year, some churches being important as maternity sites, others as mating sites and others as hibernation sites. Due to the size of the churches, several people will often be required to undertake an effective survey, utilising a full range of equipment including remote monitoring (particularly useful in the Towers) and infra-red. To keep costs down, volunteers from the church can be trained to assist in the surveys. This is often useful as it allows the parishioners to experience bats first hand, not just the mess they leave behind.
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CASE STUDY

Hackford Church has been closed to the public for 4 years due to the worsening condition of the chancel arch. English Heritage has awarded a Stage 2 Grant to complete repairs to the arch. However, a small maternity roost of natterer’s was roosting under the roof tiles beside the arch. The roost site, and one of the accesses into the church were removed as part of the repair works but survey had shown that bats do use other roost sites and accesses into the church. Alternative roost sites have been provided through the provision of purpose built mortise and tenon boxes in the silence chamber. The bats will be allowed back under the tiles by the chancel arch at completion although the access into the church at this location will not be re-instated, several others being available. The use of the new roost features is being monitored through the use of infra-red counters and data loggers and during 2010, the bat roost appeared to have moved into the silence chamber, using the boxes provided.

STOP PRESS

Over the summer 2010, Philip Parker Associates have been working on behalf of the Church Building Council on the `Bats in Churches Pilot Project’ in Norfolk, looking at ways of mitigating the effects of large colonies of bats on churches. The results of this project were presented at a conference at Lambeth Palace in November 2010. A link to this presentation will be available shortly.

BAT BOXES

A range of oak bat boxes can be supplied by Philip Parker Associates to replace lost roosting cavities in churches, barns and other buildings. Click on link below for further details.

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