Assistant Ecologist, Ben, takes us through one of his busy days during a three-month trip to Manchester to undertake bat surveys as part of the Thomson team.
My day begins with a short drive from the hotel, with my colleague Frankie, to a series of agricultural fields and pockets of woodland in Greater Manchester, today’s site. Here, we meet our two other colleagues, who are both licensed tree climbers and will be working with us on this project. Our task today is assessing all the trees on site for their potential to support roosting bats.
Bats and their roosts are strictly protected under UK legislation and it is, therefore, important to our client that any potential roosts on site be identified for further survey, so that their project does not result in the unlawful harm of protected bat species.
After meeting the landowner, discussing access matters and health and safety considerations, we set off around the fields and woodlands systematically. Frankie and I set about performing Preliminary Ground Level Roost Assessment of Trees of all the trees on site.
We carry a high-powered torch and a pair of binoculars to help us analyse every tree for any crevices, woodpecker holes, rot holes, loose bark, splits, cracks, dense ivy or any bird or bat boxes. Any of these features may be an entrance to a suitable internal space that a bat could use to roost.
Since a high proportion of the features which look promising from the ground lack a suitable internal space for bats, they can be ruled out during further survey undertaken by the tree climbers. The benefit of using a climbing team is that we save our clients’ money by concentrating any further survey work exclusively on features that retain their potential, when inspected by tree climbers.
We finish up in the field, grab some lunch and get ready for the afternoon’s paperwork.
After eating, we meet up with another team from Thomson in the hotel, grab a coffee and set up our laptops. We begin typing up the findings we noted during the survey. For every tree we identified as having a potential roost feature from the ground, we document all the important details we recorded in the field. This includes: what species the tree is, the GPS location, what sort of feature the tree has and what level of potential we deem it to have.
After the digital survey sheets are completed, we organise the photographs we have taken of every tree and feature, naming them according to our client’s protocol.
Lastly, we digitise the field map we annotated during the survey, displaying clearly every tree with the potential to support roosting bats. We take great care in ensuring all the data is correct and organised to ensure the trees and features that require further survey can be easily found.
After checking all the data is present and correct, we have a look at tomorrow’s schedule. We will be conducting similar surveys for potential roosts, but on residential properties. Once we are happy with today’s work and have tomorrow planned, we complete our work day and head out for dinner and a well-earned rest.
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