Tees Valley Wildlife Trust’s East Cleveland Batscape project set out to increase appreciation and understanding of the number of different bats in East Cleveland and how they are using the landscape to roost, forage and commute. As the project nears its end what did we find out?

  • With the help of volunteer surveyors we have found several major new hotspots in East Cleveland for bats.
  • We have found bats at the top of cliffs along the Cleveland way, at the old alum quarries. These cliffs are the highest on the East coast of England.
  • We have recorded the rare migratory Nathusius pipistrelle on two sites in the East Cleveland area. This is important information nationally.
  • As far as we are aware, Soprano pipistrelles had not been recorded in the Cleveland area previously. We now have at least three acoustic records of Soprano pipistrelles.
  • Common pipistrelles in East Cleveland often produce foraging calls with a higher than average start frequency. Some start frequencies have been observed as high as 123kHz (current literature states this to be 95kHz), indicating the Common pipistrelles of East Cleveland have their own local accent!

The wooded nature of East Cleveland and the rural character of the landscape had been recognised as having the potential to be important for more than eight species of bats, including some of the rarer bats and this project has showed how important the area is.

The project was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund activities included: twenty training events were held and over 80 volunteers now know how to use the various bat detectors to record bats in their own patch. And that’s what they did in: in gardens, on their favourite walks and in other targeted areas.

Thanks to these volunteers the Trust managed  to survey 120Km2  – most of East Cleveland was covered using a line transect method with hand held bat detectors or a highly sensitive bat detector left in a single location. Of course this generated a lot of data; this is where the next group of volunteers came in. Using bio-acoustic software they analysed hundreds of records.

Over 72 events were organised including talks and the ever popular bat walks with audiences including schools, uniformed organisation, young farmer and the general public with over 1000 people attending. An East Cleveland Batscape interpretive display has been touring local libraries and community halls.

We are hoping that volunteers involved with the project will continue their learning about bats and undertake more local surveys, data analysis, public engagement and have an interest in becoming a bat carer. The nearest bat groups to Cleveland are Durham and North Yorkshire and there is a huge gap in bat surveyors and carers within the Cleveland area. With bat carers from outside of the area often having to travel far to pick up a bat that requires rescuing. One of the aims of the project was to co-ordinate a local bat group at the end of the project, but this is something still to be discussed and considered further. If you would like to find out more about how you can help bats visit http://www.clevelandbats.org.uk/ or contact Sarah Barry on 01287636382.