Norfolk asked to go 'batty'

01 Apr 2014 | No. 2014-23

The Norfolk Bat Survey ( returns this year, with plans to be even bigger and better, building upon the successes achieved in 2013. The survey, which uses automated bat detectors to record the presence of bats, needs the help of volunteers willing to put out detectors across the county.

The Norfolk Bat Survey aims to give anyone in Norfolk a unique opportunity to help collect new information on which bat species are to be found within the county and in what 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 by special computer programs, which produce a list of the bats recorded from the site, something that is then shared with the volunteer who operated the detector.

Twenty-one 'Bat Monitoring Centres' have been set up across the county, from which volunteers can borrow equipment for a few days to take part in the survey.

Last year the project was able to survey 448 1-km squares (about 8% of Norfolk), and received over a quarter of a million high-quality recording of bats, making this the largest project of its type. The survey organisers are keen for people who took part in 2013 to repeat their survey again this year, which would allow them to monitor change in bat populations within Norfolk. The aim is to increase survey coverage to 20% of the county and, with your help, we can do this.

Dr Stuart Newson, BTO Senior Research Ecologist (and project manager for Norwich Bat Group) 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 the county.”  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.”

Last year we 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. 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), Norfolk Wildlife Trust, University of East Anglia, the Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group, Norfolk Woodland Myotis Study Group, the Pennoyer Centre, the Breckland Society, the Little Ouse Headwaters Project, Farmland Conservation Limited and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

    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 and the Geoffrey Watling Charity.
  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

Dr Stuart Newson
(BTO Senior Research Ecologist)

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

Mike Toms
(BTO Associate Director - Communications Science)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: mike.toms [at]

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