Caring for wildlife at Cotehele

Dormouse being weighed and measured by licenced staff as part of the Endangered Species Programme

Cotehele is teeming with wildlife which live across its wide range of habitats and we work hard to protect these creatures and maintain and improve the environment they live in.

The Cotehele rangers carry out regular monitoring of wildlife populations. This lets us know whether they are thriving or not and can indicate the overall health of the habitat. Birds, dormice, butterflies and bats are regularly counted by fully trained and licenced staff.  Reed Warblers were heard on the Bird Survey down by the River Tamar, dormice in the woodland and bats near Cotehele Quay.

Where do bats live at Cotehele?

‘Cotehele provides a variety of habitats to support many different species.’ says George Holmes, Lead Ranger. ‘Bats roost in hollowed trees and the nooks and crannies of the limekilns on Cotehele Quay and those identified in our recent wildlife survey at the quay include tiny pipistrelles, which are less than the size of a thumb, Noctule, Natterer’s and  Daubenton’s - sometimes called ‘water bats’ because they catch insects from the water’s surface.

A Daubenton's bat
A Daubenton's bat
A Daubenton's bat

Are bats endangered?

According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the UK counts 17 resident bat species and George says 8 of those have been found in the recent surveys on the Cotehele estate.

 ‘Dormice and bats are a vital part of our native wildlife,’ George continues. ‘Sadly, like a lot of wildlife, they are under pressure from the changing world that we live in. I like to think here at Cotehele we offer them a sanctuary and we’re currently reviewing how we manage the estate to make it more even more appealing as a habitat for different wildlife species.’

A Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernates in a cave
Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernating in cave
A Greater Horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) hibernates in a cave

What about dormice?

Dormice populations in the UK have fallen by around 1/3 since 2000 according to the wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species, partly due to habitat loss. They prefer to live high in the tree canopy in old deciduous woodlands and Cotehele are encouraging a revival in their numbers locally through woodland management and introducing nesting boxes. They have installed 50 nesting boxes across the woodlands on the Cotehele estate and licensed staff monitor these monthly and the information gathered feeds into a National Dormouse Monitoring Programme overseen by the PTES.

Sleeping dormouse at Cotehele
Sleeping dormouse at Cotehele
Sleeping dormouse at Cotehele

Where can I see bats and dormice at Cotehele?

As they live in such small populations and rarely come down to the ground sightings of dormice are rare. However, having come out of hibernation, bats are fully active and busy feeding as the nights get warmer. The females are roosting in maternity colonies and preparing to have their pups.

If you’d like to see the bats though, head down to Cotehele Quay in the evening to watch them swooping overhead and feeding on the river. Each species can be identified from their unique high frequency emitted when flying so you could consider taking a bat detector to aid in their identification.

A common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) flies overhead
Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in flight over silver birch branch
A common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) flies overhead