Volunteers needed to search for bats in churches all over Milton Keynes

People with an interest in churches and wildlife are needed to help search for bats in the belfry in a unique survey.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 8:36 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 3:14 pm

The National Bats in Churches survey is in its final year and so far 13 species of bat have been recorded in churches across Bucks.

The project is appealing for volunteers to come forward and help to discover more about how and why bats are using churches.

It’s thought at least 60 per cent of pre-16th Century churches in England house bat roosts but the true figure could be much higher.

Bats in an ancient church

Bats in Churches, a partnership between heritage and conservation organisations, needs more people to search for serotines, peek for pipistrelles, hunt for greater horseshoes and nosy for noctules this summer.

Bats have been associated with churches for centuries. With complex structures packed full of cosy nooks and crannies, the buildings make great homes for these threatened animals that are so vulnerable to habitat loss.

Some of our churches are home to nationally and internationally important roosts.

Last year the Bats in Churches survey discovered bats in just over half of the 219 churches surveyed and some new species were recorded For the first time, experts verified Brandt’s bat and whiskered bat through DNA in their droppings collected during the surveys . They also had our their recording of either Leisler’s bat or noctule.

Claire Boothby, training and surveys officer at Bats in Churches, said: ‘If you have an interest in churches, bats or both I'd encourage you to get involved. The surveys are something that everyone can do, even if you are new to the world of bat surveys.

Volunteer Kathy Warden, who took part in the survey last year, said: “Knowing how valuable churches can be for bats I thought this nationwide survey was a great opportunity to contribute and discover a bit more about our local bats at the same time. The best moment came after scouring the church for signs of bat activity to see a brown long-eared bat looking down from high up in the chancel roof. It couldn’t help but make anybody smile!”

To sign up, visit here.