The Woodland, Flora & Fauna Group is continuously seeking ways to enhance the survival prospects of local wildlife and when funds become available we undertake new initiatives. At the end of last year we provided bat boxes in a Hassocks woodland with a generous donation towards the total cost from the owner. This increased the roosting habitat opportunities for the surrounding area. We maintain and monitor them and record all usage and occupant species.
This year we received some similar generous funding from a supporter and transformed some of it into a further benefit for the dwindling local bat population in a different area of local countryside. The location we chose for this was an area we already have a high involvement with nature conservation at Pond Lye Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
One of the woodlands to the east of the huge lake is already benefitting from our previous bat box investment and supports, brown long-eared, pipistrelle and Natterer’s bats, so when we saw an opportunity to expand this benefit to another area of woodland to the north of the lake we pursued it.
The area was situated to the east of the meadow area.
The woodland had an existing avenue into the centre which allowed bat access.
The tree-lined passageway continued into the heart of the woodland.
The whole woodland was surveyed and suitable trees were selected and marked in readiness for installation.
The avenue linked into a clear area in the centre of the woodland.
Woodcrete boxes were selected to provide maximum durability and thermal insulation properties. The boxes were ordered and when delivered, were numbered and labelled. There was then a delay to fit the work required into a crowded seasonal conservation schedule without it delaying other important activities. We eventually organised a separate activity into one of our weekly schedules and a team was assembled to undertake it.
Volunteers assembled to tackle the task.
The chosen day was fine with temperatures reaching 26 degrees. The volunteers carried the required heavy ladders and equipment across the adjacent meadow to the woodland and the work commenced.
The marked trees were accessed with ladders….
….and bat boxes began to be mounted.
A suitable position was sought on each tree….
….and a team of helpers ensured height and orientation requirements were met.
The trees chosen were the most substantial ones….
….which were unlikely to sway or fall in high winds.
Clear access at box level was ensured….
….to allow free flight movement to each location.
Consideration was given to every requirement to maximise bat occupancy….
….and implemented thoroughly.
The boxes were arranged to provide various orientation choices to the occupants….
….to allow them to adjust to changes in temperature and weather conditions.
Boxes of varying shapes, sizes and types were fitted….
.…to maximise the differing occupancy preferences of individual species.
A lot of group volunteer time and money was spent to ensure adequate access and accommodation requirements were met….
….to try to enable maximum usage and benefit to the local bats.
The time taken to complete the task was longer than predicted due to the difficulties that often manifest themselves as work progresses. We eventually finished with all boxes erected in readiness for occupancy and looking forward to the check at the end of the summer to gauge how effective they have been.
This extends our wildlife support coverage across an even larger area of southern Mid Sussex and hopefully is boosting local populations accordingly. With the natural environment and wildlife generally under so much pressure both are reliant on such initiatives to compensate. To achieve these conclusions we are very grateful for the financial contributions and volunteer support received to assist us.