Bats at our properties

The rare Barbastelle bat is regulary recorded at Sheringham Park © Bats Cons.Trust/Hugh Clark

The rare Barbastelle bat is regulary recorded at Sheringham Park

All 18 UK species of bat are found roosting or foraging around our properties. Some of the largest, rarest and most important UK roosts are in Trust buildings and trees.

Roosts are carefully monitored with help from local volunteers and bat surveys of the surrounding land are also carried out.

The Trust is nationally at the forefront of bat conservation.

Bats at Sherborne
All aspects of life of the bats at Sherborne have been studied by a team of bat conservationists.

This 1200 hectares estate in Gloucestershire consists of farmland, woodland, parkland, a village, a river and lakes.

Bat roosts were discovered and monitored, feeding areas were located and investigated, and flight lines across the landscape were plotted. All the latest technology was used from ultrasonic bat detectors to tiny 0.35g radio transmitters.

So far eight species of bat have been discovered and by the end of the project we want to be able to see how they use the whole landscape and what restricts their numbers. Improving the bats' habitat will be explored and instigated through management plans.

Bats at Woodchester Park

Woodchester Mansion and its surrounding parklands have been home to the greater horseshoe bat since the early 20th century.

Breeding females take up residence during the summer months, where they give birth to one pup in June or July.

In the late 1950's Dr Roger Ransome started studying the greater horseshoe bats at the Mansion, and counted around 350-400 bats in the maternity roost. In the early 1960's, the combination of a harsh winter and removal of grazing cattle which produced dung and so dung beetles - important food for greater horseshoe bats - saw a devastating drop in bat numbers. This left the roost with 200 bats surviving.

A number of cattle were re-introduced in the 1970's, however a further two severe winters resulted in the death of a large number of young mothers. Numbers dropped to critically low levels, a mere 85 individuals in 1986.

However, the bats are now beginning to recover, with numbers gradually increasing each year. During 1994 heaters were installed in the attic, and the National Trust acquired most of the valley including the park. Since then a programme of sensitive management within the Mansion and park has begun, and the bat numbers have increased to approximately 150.

Bats at Horner Wood
Horner Wood is part of the Holnicote Estate in North Somerset. Nearly all 18 UK bat species have been found at this one woodland.

One of the most endangered bats across Europe is the greater horseshoe bat. A small number have been located with electronic bat detectors at the Horner village end of the wood. But the star turn is the barbastelle bat. This is a rare woodland species across Europe with a significant breeding population in Horner Wood.

Bats at Tyntesfield
Since the acquisition of Tyntesfield near Bristol in 2002 a bat survey and monitoring project have been carried out. Each visit produces more batty finds.

Of principal interest is a colony of lesser horseshoe bats that summer-roost in the roofs above the Billiard Room and Servants Hall.

The colony consists of around 70 bats, many of which hibernate nearby in a tunnel near the wood-yard or occasionally under the Chapel and in the cellars of the Chaplain's House.

Species of bats found at Tyntesfield include:
Greater horseshoe bats gather in spring in a stair-well of the Stable Block and then move on to summer roosts elsewhere. During the night, some come to Tyntesfield to forage around the grounds and sometimes night-roost in the porch. A few bats hibernate at Tyntesfield too.

Serotine bats have a small day-roosts in the roof void above the Drawing Room, in the roof of the Stable Block and a crevice in the veranda, and forage over the ornamental gardens to the east.

Brown long-eared bats have a summer roost in the roof void of the Chaplain’s House and night-roosts in many open buildings on the estate, such as the Stable Block.

Whiskered or Brandt’s bats have been detected foraging in the woodland and walled garden area.

Common and soprano pipistrelle bats forage widely around the grounds, but no summer roosts have been found.

One of the easiest foraging places to observe bats is the loggia on the south side of the house. The sloping glass roof traps hundreds of insects in the daytime, and bats come to feed at night. All of the above bat species have been observed there at close quarters.

Tyntesfield is obviously important for many bats in the area and care is taken not to disturb the bats or their roosting places.

Viewing bats at our properties
If you would like to see bats at one of our places we recommend you take part in one of our popular bat walks during the spring and summer months, when the bats are at their most active.