Bats were once common in Scilly but by the 1990’s they seemed almost to have disappeared.  This is undoubtedly down to habitat loss, improvements to barns and buildings which they would have roosted in and food availability, compounded by the use of insecticides on farms.  Due to changes in these practices, bats numbers appear to be recovering. 

At the beginning of 2018 the Trust was informed that the Islands resident volunteer Bat Wardens would be stepping down from this role after 11 years at the helm.  This left a worrying gap in the provision of Bat conservation in Scilly, so we set about finding a viable solution which the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust could deploy. 

Bat conservation is a complex business. With Bat groups, Bat consultants, volunteers and paid professionals, Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust, and then the “Scilly-factor” of a remote community of 5 inhabited islands; it was quite tricky to come up with a workable plan.  But we didn't let that put us off! 

Two staff members (Darren Mason and Darren Hart) have since undertaken professional Bat License training with Dr Sandie Sowler, who has been involved in Bat research and conservation since 1969; having 24 years experience as an ecological consultant in the UK, focussing on Bat conservation, Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIA’s) and latterly developing training courses.  Sandie has the full range of Bat licenses with both Natural England and Natural Resources Wales and has developed and delivered Bat Conservation Trust training courses since 2003. 

In June of 2018, Sandie kindly came to Scilly to train Darren M and Darren H; as the cost of our team going to the mainland for the course would have been prohibitive.  We are eternally grateful for Sandie’s enthusiasm and commitment to Bat conservation in Scilly and for her help in finding a solution for Scilly which has and is working.

The Trust offered an ecological consultancy service for those needing information about the presence of Bats or the possibilities of providing roost sites for Bats within the planning system, from 2018 to 2021.  Homeowners/developers are often required by the Local Planning Authority to take into account Bats when applying for planning permission; the Trust provided this service on a not-for-profit basis. 

Sadly this service came to an end in July 2021, when Darren M (a key member of staff leading on Bat Consultancy and Conservation) left the Trust.

We hope that the service enabled developers/homeowners to do all they could to help our Bat populations thrive.  If you have any questions or require assistance relating to planning and Bats following the cessation of our service, please contact James Faulconbridge who's details can be found in "Bat Consultancy Moving Forwards"

In Scilly 7 species of bat have been recorded. However only 3 are resident; Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), Soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) and Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus).  

Other species such as Nathusius pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii) are migrant, but could be resident; at present we just don't know.  

The Isles of Scilly hold the UK’s southernmost population of Common pipistrelle however we currently don’t have sufficient data to know much more and so another purpose of this new venture is to gain more data on where Bats are roosting, be that maternity, hibernation or transition roosts.  Ultimately, we hope that increased information about Bats and their whereabouts and requirements in Scilly will enable the Trust to create more suitable Bat habitat (or should that be "batitat"?) so that they can thrive as an integral part of the islands ecosystem.

Since undertaking the training and carrying out survey work our eager Bat Ecologists have confirmed 5 new bat roosts on the islands along with a new species for Scilly (Leisler's bat)! 

To find out more about Bats in Scilly and read about one little Bat who had a very lucky escape read our Scilly Now & Then article "When to help a Flittermouse".

Our short #WildlifeWednesday film explains a little more and shows what happens before, during and after a Bat Survey!

Do remember that we rely on donations to continue our work.  If you have searched, found and learned about Scilly's wildlife on our website, please Support Us and give what you can.  Thank you Bat on Google Android 11.0 December 2020 Feature Drop

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With thanks to Tom Marshall for the Common pipistrelle banner image & Amy Lewis for inline image

Please note that Bats are protected species and these images were taken under licence in controlled conditions