Radio Tracking

 

Radio tracking bats is an specialist and highly effective method of providing high quality and detailed data to find bat foraging habitats, distance ranges from roosts, night roosts, day roosts, and preferred flight lines.

This information is often crucial in order to devise suitable and adequate mitigation measures, including the design for planting of vegetation, road crossings, and lighting schemes when a larger-scale building development or road scheme is being planned. Radio tracking will also provide data for the research required prior to a wind farm site being approved for planning permission. Radio tracking can also be used for baseline, or ongoing assessments of habitat use by bats – especially where there is an important roost or where habitat management plans are desired. The data gathered will be especially vital, however, if a development site or road scheme is close to a bat roost or if the scheme is close to a contentious or sensitive area.

Greena Ecological Consultancy consult very closely with developers and Highways Authorities to devise a radio tracking scheme which are appropriate for the specific situation and location. The information gathered will often be essential to provide detailed and robust data for a successful application to acquire the necessary European Protected Species licences before work can begin on the site. High quality data is crucially important if a public enquiry is at all likely to be held before the development can go ahead.

Radio tracking bats can be complex and difficult to carry out properly  but it is often a legal requirement for road schemes and large-scale development to carry out adequate data gathering – and using radio tracking is ideal if the works are close to a known bat colony, or if the site is considered to be contentious in some way.  Greena Ecological Consultancy only allows extra staff with considerable radio tracking experience to be recruited in for projects requiring more staff and despite it being tempting to save money, we do not use volunteers or students for this work. Radio tracking, when done properly, is a very good method to discover bat foraging areas, commuter routes and roost sites.

A ‘fix’ is the term used to describe a moment in time when the bat is located precisely at a certain point, and it is essential to use at least 2 and preferably 3 radio tracking staff to gain an accurate ‘fix’, and this is especially true for discovering where precisely a bat is spending time feeding or where it is commuting. Each of our radio trackign staff will be located in a separate location and all will take compass readings on the bats position simultaneously, using radio contact to synchronise this action. The greater number of bats tracked at one time and/or the faster flying the species involved, the greater number of experienced radio tracking staff will need to be used.

Geoff Billington is well-respected nationally as an expert in radio tracking, having had over 15 years of experience radio tracking at a professional level and having successfully radio tracked several hundred bats of 16 different species in the UK, and the endangered Indiana bat in the USA. The largest number of bats Greena Ecological Consultancy have tracked at one time is 19 – using 4 experienced radio tracking staff , though frequently 6 or 12 bats are tracked simultaneously.

Geoff and Greena Ecological Consultancy have had a lot of experience tracking some of the fast flying barbastelle and greater horseshoe, and often radio track in very difficult habitats. The various types of difficulties are with the terrain  – which can be heavily built up urban areas, steeply rolling hillsides, woodland, lack of permitted access, large water bodies, or very flat terrain –  and when this is coupled with high speed of some species of bats flight, it can make the tracking process a lot more complex. Greena Ecological Consultancy have a very high success rate for the quality of data gathered from radio tracking in all types of difficult habitat with both the slower flying and the faster flying species of bat.

Lesser horseshoes radio tracked by Greena Ecoogical Consultancy have often been found to consitently travel further on a regular basis than previously recorded by some notable UK radio tracking studies. Lesser horseshoes in Europe have also often been found to travel further tha the UK studies suggest and this could be due to habitat differences or differences in expertise of the personnel used.

Use of a light aircraft has proved remarkably cost and time effective in some circumstances for radio tracking surveys in certain types of difficult terrain, as it is a very rapid (though stomach churning) method of locating radio tagged bats while in their day roosts, providing information which would have otherwise been very difficult indeed to obtain.

 

GreenaEco offers radio tracking training within one of our more advanced bat survey courses.

If you require bat radio tracking studies to be carried out or would like to simply discuss your requirements then please contact Geoff.