Hampshire Small Myotis Project

Kelly Jones, Hampshire Bat Group

After attending the BatCRU advanced licence bat survey techniques training Daniel W was apparently confident in my abilities (I had access to traps) and asked if I would get the small myotis project up and running in Hampshire.

Initially, Nik Knight had some woodland sites in mind and we went out to scope these locations, including the suitability to support small myotis and the potential to place traps (the type and structure of woodland vegetation), utilising and incorporating all of the important skills I had learnt on the course!

Hampshire is a difficult county to survey as a group due to its size, myself and Chris Doubell up in the far north and Nik and most other group members I knew of to the south, luckily, I bumped into Camilla at one of the hibernation surveys who had just moved to Winchester, providing much better coverage.

Initially (in May 2018), as a trial we trapped at Brickkiln Pond, for which access was organised by Nik. It was all a bit last minute, so sadly no other group members were available, but it was a successful trip and we caught two small myotis bats.

The first provided a lovely faecal sample, but second would not perform for us and I resorted to cutting a small amount of fur in case the lab could obtain sufficient DNA for analysis. Samples were given to Dan and I haven’t heard back yet. They weren’t overly keen on having their photos taken….

We also joined Ross and Lynn of the Surrey Bat Group in the pre-maternity period at Alice Holt. Conditions were good to start and we caught a single Natterer’s bat before the temperature dropped as did activity levels.

The rest of 2018 we focused on organising access ready to start in earnest in 2019.

In 2019, with the help of Camilla, Ani and Nik, we managed to organise four different trapping locations for which we aimed to carry out one survey in the pre-maternity period and one in the post-maternity period in order to account for any variations between the two periods.

  • Fleet Pond – Hart District Council
  • Crab Wood – Hampshire County Council
  • Brickkiln Pond – Private ownership
  • Chawton Wood – Forestry Commission

We managed six surveys over the year, with the help of several Hampshire Bat Group volunteers. All of those who were rabies vaccinated had the opportunity to handle and learn about the identification process and the assessment of sex and reproductive status for each species caught.

Species diversity at all locations was good, with the usual suspects caught; brown long-eared bats, common and soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton’s and Natterer’s bats, with some exciting records of barbastelle and noctule at Chawton Wood and Bechstein’s bats at Crab Wood and Brickkiln Pond. Across all of the sites we caught two of the three small myotis species (whiskered and Alcathoe’s bat), however, a couple of individuals (at Fleet Pond) were unconfirmed through DNA analysis, so further surveys may be required at this site.

I think it was a successful trapping season and have really enjoyed meeting and learning from so many Hampshire Bat Group members and hope that we can get more people involved in the coming 2020 season.