Where to spot bats in the South East
Ever wanted to spot a bat? We are the single biggest owner of bat roosts in the UK. In the South East region at places like Cliveden, Hughenden, Mottisfont, The Vyne and everywhere else, we're working hard to make them welcome.
Bats spend half their life hanging about (literally). Most bats will use a variety of structures for roosting and use different sites for breeding and hibernating.
They cosy into natural 'structures' such as cracks in cliff faces, caves or splits and holes in trees to roost.
Mottisfont has an international designation for the rare Barbastelle bats in its Hampshire woods, the Isle of Wight has rare Bechstein's bats in Borthwood Copse and Ashridge, on the Buckinghamshire/Hertfordshire border has lots of cracked and creviced veteran trees for bats to roost in. They're not put off by lots of people - there's a Noctule bat roost near the busy Bridgewater Monument at Ashridge.
Built structures, such as bridges, houses, churches, barns also make great homes for bats. At Basildon Park in Berkshire, a survey recently found Serotine bats roosting in the stable block and Brown long-eared bats using it as a maternity roost.
Stowe's elegant temples house Brown long-eared and Natterer's bats, while The Vyne has Whiskered and Brown long-eared bats in the mansion roof space.
Cellars, mines, ice-houses and tunnels provide sheltered, cool, relatively humid microclimates for hibernating. Hughenden in Buckinghamshire has Brown long-eared and Natterer's bats hibernating in one of its secret underground war bunkers. A disused rail tunnel on the Drovers Estate in West Sussex is a vital bat hibernation site with some rare species.
And we mustn't forget Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. Its South Terrace hosts one of the most important bat sites in the country, with eight species swarming here between August and October. We don't know exactly what they swarm for. It's a big social get together before hibernation which could suggest mating.
How we look after bats
Bats are legally protected in the UK because their numbers have declined so much. Often this is because their habitats are destroyed or disturbed. Whenever we repair or restore a building, bats are front of mind. After a survey, we recommend when the work should be done and what methods will least disturb the roost.
If it's unavoidable, we provide alternative accommodation. For instance, at Chastleton in Oxfordshire, when a stable loft was turned into an office, a special new bat loft was built into the stable block.
Working with conservation partners
One of our aims is to help increase the size and number of wildlife-rich habitats so that they can join up better. We work in partnership with the Bat Conservation Trust and volunteers to look at how bats are faring on National Trust land. We can then use the information collected to measure how well we're doing at restoring a healthy, beautiful natural environment.
Want to get involved? Find out more about the National Bat Monitoring Programme