Bat Management at Pensthorpe

Bats are amazing and certainly not scary! Our Reserve Manager, Richard Spowage, manages our 700 acre reserve for wildlife, including a variety of bat species, and gives us an insight into these nocturnal and fascinating creatures…

“Here at Pensthorpe we believe we have ten species of bats, based on work carried out by the Norfolk bat survey, including possible detection of Nathusius pipistrelle which is a rare migratory bat that heads to the UK during the summer months from Europe. The Norfolk Bat Survey, run by the British Trust for Ornithology, aims to improve understanding of the distribution and activities of bats across the county. The Norfolk Bat Survey monitor 1km squares across Norfolk of which we have 3 that are monitored throughout Pensthorpe. The survey was a solus survey as part of a countrywide programme to understand the distribution of bats across Norfolk. One volunteer visited us in June 2017 to set up bat detection units to record bat calls for three consecutive days. One unit recorded 1,782 individual bat passes in one night!

With such a variety of habitats at Pensthorpe it’s no surprise, woodlands, meadows, lakes and the river Wensum offer great areas for bats to forage.

It’s easy to forget to manage the surrounding environment, to allow for optimum conditions to attract bats. It’s difficult to know what bats specifically require but we are keen to include them in our habitat management plans. These plans have to be as varied as possible, rich in flora and fauna and offering good food sources, not just for bats but other aerial predators, from birds to dragonflies as well. In some of our woodland we are now developing north to south rides which are ideal for hunting bats. Rides are straight pathways within a wood, traditionally six metres to nine metres in width, to offer an increased biodiversity within the area.

We also provide bat boxes and aim to maintain dead wood and cavities in trees wherever possible to provide more natural roosting opportunities.”

For those of you who are interested in learning more about bats and other fascinating creatures that only come out after dark, we are holding a NEW “Creatures of the night” event here at Pensthorpe at the end of August. It will offer you the chance to explore the park with Richard, after dark, and learn about the resident owls, bats and moths that call Pensthorpe home. Find out more here.