Norfolk and Suffolk asked to go 'batty'

01 Apr 2015 | No. 2015-11

The Norfolk Bat Survey ( returns this year for its third year running, with plans to be even bigger and better. The survey, which uses automated bat detectors to record the presence and activity of bats, needs the help of volunteers willing to put out detectors.

The Norfolk Bat Survey aims to give anyone in Norfolk and just over the border into Suffolk a unique opportunity to help collect new information on which bat species are present within different areas and habitats. These detectors are left in situ at selected sites to run overnight and record the echolocation calls of passing bats. The resulting sound files are then analysed to produce a list of the bats and information on the timing of bat activity from the site, something that is then shared with the volunteer who operated the detector.

Twenty-three 'Bat Monitoring Centres' have been set up, from which volunteers can borrow equipment for a few days to take part in the survey. From this year, we have two new Bat Monitoring Centres at Brandon Country Park in Suffolk and at the River Waveney Trust Study Centre at Earsham, which will allow anyone in the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks and Waveney Valley to take part. In addition, we are working closely with the Breckland Society, who are running their own bat detector, and feeding into this project to improve the level of recording in the Norfolk / Suffolk Brecks.

Over the past two years the project was able to survey 786 1-km squares (about 15% of Norfolk), and received over 600,000 high-quality recordings of bats, making this one of the largest projects of its type in the world. The aim is to increase survey coverage to 25% of Norfolk and add to existing knowledge in the neighbouring parts of Suffolk, with your help, we can do this.

Dr Stuart Newson, BTO Senior Research Ecologist commented: “It is really exciting to have an opportunity to work in partnership with local bat groups, local and national organisations and local libraries, to improve our understanding of bats in Norfolk and in  neighbouring parts of Suffolk”  He added “This project is very exciting for me because it combines a personal interest in bats, in designing large-scale monitoring schemes, and in finding novel ways of engaging the public’s interest in the natural environment.”

Sue Hooton, Suffolk Bat Group Chairperson, said, “This is a great chance to use specialist equipment to carry out a bat survey in the Suffolk Brecks and Waveney valley in addition to Norfolk. It complements the work of Suffolk Bat Group and the additional records will help fill in some of the gaps in our bat atlas. As the project provides a window into the world of bats, I hope it will encourage more people to get involved with bat conservation and prove you don’t need to be an expert to take part. I also hope that Suffolk surveys provide useful information to put the Norfolk bat records in context.”

Last year the Norfolk Bat Survey had more people wanting to take part in some parts of the county than we had detectors to support, so you need to be quick in expressing interest, and reserving your 1-km square to survey. You can do this via After selecting a 1-km square (or squares if interested in covering more than one square), you will be given a web link to a site where you can reserve a detector to use from the most convenient Bat Monitoring Centre to you. If you live in the Suffolk Brecks or Waveney Valley, you can sign up through our Projects in Suffolk page

Please note that this survey requires three different points, ideally at least 200-metres apart, to be surveyed on consecutive nights within a 1-km square.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Norfolk Bat Survey is led by BTO in partnership with NBIS, National Trust (Oxburgh Hall and Sheringham Park), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (Welney Wetland Centre), Wheatfen (Ted Ellis reserve), Sculthorpe Moor (Hawk & Owl Trust), Broads Authority (How Hill), RSPB (Titchwell) and Norfolk Libraries and Information Service (Aylsham, Hethersett, Caister, Attleborough, Watton, Swaffham, Dereham, Gaywood, Long Stratton and Wells libraries), Dinosaur Adventure (Lenwade), Brandon Country Park, The River Waveney Trust (River Waveney Study Centre at Earsham), Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group, Norfolk Woodland Myotis Study Group, Suffolk Bat Group, the Pennoyer Centre, the Breckland Society, the Little Ouse Headwater Project, Farmland Conservation Limited, the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and the Teacher Scientist Network. We are extremely grateful to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Natural England (Defra Fund for Biodiversity Recording in the Voluntary Sector) for providing start-up funding for this project. Additional support was given by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership, the Geoffrey Watling Charity, Love the Broads and the Suffolk and Essex Water Branch Out Fund.  

    For anyone interested in more bat activities in Suffolk, there is a Suffolk Bat Group bat detector workshop on 10 July at River Waveney Study Centre, Earsham – details and booking suffolkbatgroup [at]
  2. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity with recognised expertise in bird monitoring, but the breadth of its knowledge means that the BTO can make valuable contributions to monitoring other taxa. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

Contact Details

Hazel Evans
(Bat Survey Organiser - BTO)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: norfolkbatsurvey [at]

Dr Stuart Newson
(BTO Senior Research Ecologist)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: norfolkbatsurvey [at]

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2015-11

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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