Cherryfield Ecology has been bat surveying a barn in Oxfordshire for a couple of weeks for bats as part of a planning application to convert it to a dwelling.

We already knew that brown long eared bats (BLEB) Plecotus auritus were using the barn from the first survey, when we had at least two individuals exit the barn. As BLEB as known to have small maternity colonies (mother bats and pups) we decided that it would be a good idea to mist net at the site to confirm if this was the case. 

Mist netting involves placing a net across an entrance or across a flight line to catch the bat in flight, because this is a highly invasive means of catching bats and can be damaging to bats, in the UK whoever does this must be licenced (Cherryfields licenced mist netter is Martin O’Connor).

The net was set up over the barn door as we had seen a BLEB emerge from the door on the first survey. After approx an hour after sunset a single BLEB was caught.

Once the bat was safely removed from the net it was checked for sex. this bat turned out to be a strapping male bat, thus confirming that there was not a maternity roost in the barn. Some time later another bat was seen flying towards the net but it must have seen it at the last second as it stopped dead in mid-air and avoided. this was almost certainly another BLEB as the ears could be seen as it flew in the twilight.

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Five more sessions to go before the end of June. Two of these have to be before mid-May, during the optimal season. However as Great crested newt has been confirmed the client will need to have a European Protected Species Licence (EPSL) to proceed. This is once the development planning application has been granted. This will allow the habitat to be replaced and enhanced ensuring the survival and ongoing use of the site in the future.

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