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New Barbastelle Breeding Colony Found in Hampshire

posted Aug 16, 2012, 3:50 AM by Mark Rose   [ updated Aug 19, 2012, 9:02 AM by Hampshire Bat Group ]
Members of Hampshire Bat Group have located another maternity colony of barbastelle bat Barbastella barbastellus. In early August of this year Colleen & Paul Hope, Chris Mungo & Matt Clarke undertook a mist netting survey at woodland owned by the National Trust near Hinton Ampner in the South Downs National Park. The woodland was chosen because of its location in rolling countryside in a landscape of small woodlands connected by mature hedgerows. It is a relatively remote area where few surveys and records have been collected.Shortly after the emergence time for this species a female lactating barbastelle bat was captured in a mist net. Two barbastelle bats were seen evading another mist net shortly before this. The presence of up to three barbastelle bats in the location so shortly after expected emergence time for this species strongly suggests that the maternity roost is very nearby.
This is only the second confirmed breeding colony for this species in Hampshire outside the New Forest where three and possibly four colonies have been found by the Bat Group since 2006.  Mottisfont SAC was the first colony located for the county on another National Trust site near Romsey. National Trust ecologist Jo Hodgkins said:

This is great news and we are really pleased to have the second colony found outside the New Forest on our land. We’re keen to facilitate finding out a bit more about the colony so we can make sure these woodland bats are taken into account in site management."

Barbastelle bats favour roosts in trees although a significant number of records of bats roosting in barns have been found both within and outside of the County. The tally of five, possibly six breeding colonies makes Hampshire a county of significant importance for this rare species. Considering the presence of potential habitat as well as in some case detector records of the species it is quite likely that at least three other colonies are present in the county and the Bat Group will persist in efforts to confirm their presence. Ecologists and planners should pay special attention with regard to planning applications to convert traditional barns particularly within a 10km radius of each colony. Because of the wide range of this species this caution should apply to the whole county.