Sherborne’s bat man

An iPad bat detector in use to listen to bats in a nearby roost.

In the dark of the early evenings, our rangers are taking their iPads out and about to track down the bats flying invisibly overhead. And they are finding bats we didn’t know were here.

Ranger Mike Robinson has been working to support the bats that live at Sherborne for 30 years. Now armed with the latest bat detector attached to an ordinary iPad, he can hear their voices and the iPad shows which species are around.

Right habitats

There are ten of the 18 bats which live in the UK well recorded in official bat surveys at Sherborne. But recently new evidence from the new iPad detectors has added three more; Bechstein’s, Serotine and the Greater Horseshoe bats.

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

The river provides insects for the bats to eat and the veteran trees and old buildings provide roosting places – as do the abandoned mine workings. It is work to connect habitats with woodland and hedgerows which provide food and navigational aids for bats that has allowed them to move freely around the Estate whilst also providing foraging areas.

" We have a mosaic of habitats which is ideal for supporting so many different types of bats which has been improved over the years. When I started a survey found 35 lesser horse shoe bats here – we have now recorded 293."
- Mike Robinson

Even derelict building can be made bat friendly. Doors are repaired to keep people out but there are plenty of bat holes so they can get in and out easily - and we also encourage the right plants to grow nearby which attract insects for the bats to eat.

A Serotine bat in mid air
193644 Serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) flying at night
A Serotine bat in mid air