Lesser Horseshoe Bats Are Here In Cheshire !!

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Lesser Horseshoe Bats Are Here In Cheshire !!

Postby hlacy on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:58 am

Lesser Horseshoe Bats Are Here In Cheshire !!

Hi all,

You've probably heard by now that the bat group have found Lesser Horseshoe Bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros) hanging out at Beeston! Great news eh! Here's the full press release for you all:

Cheshire Bat Group volunteers made a surprise discovery recently whilst making routine hibernation checks at Beeston Castle. Two rare Lesser Horseshoe Bats were found at this English Heritage site and these are the first records of this species here since 1948.

The Lesser Horseshoe Bat suffered from dramatic population collapses across Europe around sixty years ago due to the use of certain pesticides in agriculture and timber treatments. Combined with habitat loss and fragmentation, populations quickly became extinct in many areas.

The Lesser Horseshoe Bat is now generally confined to Wales, the West Midlands and South-West England. Though, in 2009 the species was discovered in East Lancashire and now after years of dedicated searching the Cheshire Bat Group has discovered individuals hibernating at Beeston Castle, sixty four years after the last known record of the species at this site.

Members of the group were inspecting the man-made caves in the castle grounds and also bat boxes that they had installed at the site over the last 2 years when the discovery was made. Ged Ryan, bat enthusiast and life-long member of the bat group, said " We have always known that lesser horseshoe bats are across the border in Wales and that this area of Cheshire has suitable habitat and feeding grounds for them so we had hoped to find them one day".

"These are the type of bats which do not use boxes and were hanging freely in the caves, so although only the size of a plum they were quite easy to spot".

This discovery reinforces the positive upward trend for this species as reflected in the Bat Conservation Trusts (BCT’s) National Bat Monitoring Programme.

Chairman of the Bat Group, Mike Freeman, who discovered the second bat, said the group will now look to focusing further survey effort in this area to see if there are more of these bats about. "English Heritage and the staff at Beeston Castle are aware they've had other bat species present on site for a number of years and they manage the site for bats in conjunction with the castles other important features, so this discovery of lesser horseshoes will be welcomed news. We will carry out further monitoring to see if we can establish where these rarer bats are moving to and from"

This important find will now be logged with the county biological recording database at RECORD. Finding these bats at Beeston highlights the use of biological records since the historical data held identified this as a previous roost site for this species in the county. Such data enables wildlife experts to identify habitats and sites for survey and protection and aids conservation action. All bats and their roosts are legally protected, anyone wishing to learn more about bats or who thinks they may have bats in their home can contact the bat group for advice or see the Bat Conservation Trusts web site.
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