Q1. How long will I need to wait after taking part to find out what species were recorded? Once we receive your memory card with recordings, we hope to be able to get back to you within about a week with a summary of species recorded. However this project will be contributing to the continued development of tools for analysing acoustic data of this type. This is likely to increase the speed by which we can process files (and so get back to you quicker in the future), and to improve discrimination of some of the more difficult species to identify (see Q3 below).
Q2. Should three nights of recordings at three different points with a 1-km square, pick up all the species that use my square during a season? Small scale field trials were carried out in September 2012, to help provide an informed decision on the survey effort required to give a good idea of the species present whilst still allowing for broad coverage of the county. These field trials resulted in the recommendation the three nights of recordings are made from three different points within a 1-km square.
Q3. I have heard some species of bats are very difficult to identify from recordings, how well is this equipment able to distinguish species? This project aims to address a problem that only a few species of bats can be identified with any confidence using simple (heterodyne or frequency division) detectors. This project uses a full-spectrum detector, which produces high quality sound files, which give us the best chance of distinguishing species.
However there is one family of bats, known as Myotis bats, which are very similar acoustically. In Norfolk this includes Daubenton’s, Natterer’s, Whiskered and Brandt’s bats, with Whiskered and Brandt’s being the most difficult species pair to distinguish. Until discrimination of this family improves (see Q1), we will only assign recordings to species where there is good evidence to support this. In addition, the project is working closely with the Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group and Norfolk Woodland Myotis Study Group to ground truth identification of bats in the hand (using mist-netting), at a sample of sites where these species are recorded through the project, where there is access permission.
Q4. We have our own bat detector, can we use this for the survey? We are very keen for anyone who has a similar full spectrum static bat detector to use this. We are using full spectrum detectors because they give us the best chance to identify some of the more cryptic species. Unfortunately we are not able to make use records or recordings made on heterodyne, frequency, division, time-expansion or zero-crossing (e.g. Anabat) detectors. If you have an SM2Bat+ or similar full spectrum detector – you can download information on the filter and audio settings used HERE.
Q5. I have had a problem trying to reserve my 1-km square using your online map. What can I do? If you have a problem, please email us directly at email@example.com, letting us know what 1-km square or squares you are interested in covering.
Q6. Our local wildlife group is interested in finding out more about bats in our area, but our closest “Bat Monitoring Centre” is not very close. Currently we are limited by the number of detectors that we have access to. Given sufficient uptake this year, we will continue to look for funding to build on the project, and would be interested to have your thoughts on where you would like to see a centre. In addition we would support any groups who wanted to purchase their own equipment and take part in the project.
Q7. Can we help sponsor or give a donation to the project? The project is limited by the number of detectors that we have available to us. With funding, we would like to build on this idea – to set up more “Bat Monitoring Centres” across the county, making the project and equipment more accessible to more people, and to work on developing community engagement and involvement in the project.