The bats are still in hibernation, but the recent mild weather has caused some of them to become a little restless. On a church visit this week we were demonstrating how to use a bat detector and to our surprise we picked up some echolocation from a chatty bat up in the rafters, perfect timing for us, not so much for the bat. Back to bed please!

We also found a lovely (perfectly still) bat immortalised in a stained-glass window in St Peter’s Church in Netherseal. You can take a look at the beautiful craftsmanship here.

You may already follow us on Twitter, but we’re finally on Facebook so please do link up with us as we’ll be using our page to advertise exciting events to get involved with and to share news of our project churches.

New Churches

We’re happy to announce the addition of a whopping 17 new churches to the Bats in Churches project. Our new churches are spread right across the country and, in all of them, bats are affecting the use of their church. We’re hopeful that the project will be able to benefit these newly included churches and the bats living in them.

Luckily, we were able to accommodate all of the churches that applied, but unfortunately we’re now at full capacity. However, we’re still able to offer free advice and resources to any churches struggling with a bat population even if they aren’t part of the project so please do visit our website for more information or email us directly on bats.churches@naturalengland.org.uk

Cleaning Workshops

After the fantastic reception we received from the church representatives that took part in our cleaning workshop last year, we can confirm that we will be running six more cleaning workshops this year around the country.

Priority will be given to project churches, but if you are or know of a non-project church that wants to take part in one of these or have got any questions about cleaning churches inhabited by bats, please get in touch with our Heritage Advisor Rachel Arnold at rarnold@thecct.org.uk

We are also in the final stages of creating a cleaning booklet that will be available to download for free on our website, so we’ll let you know as soon as that’s ready.

Heritage Advisor Rachel Arnold leading a cleaning workshop with help from Engagement Officer Rose Riddell
Heritage Advisor Rachel Arnold leading a cleaning workshop with help from Engagement Officer Rose Riddell

Tesco Bags of Help

An impressive 60% of the churches that took part in the Tesco Bags for Help initiative were able to win funding. We’re now helping those churches to secure items that will help them manage or engage with their bat communities.

St Nicholas’ Church in Chignal Smealey are using their Tesco winnings on protective frames for their wall mounted brasses and the brass on their altar front.

In addition to their hard-won National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £24,000 to boost tourism in the area, thanks to Tesco Tattershall’s Holy Trinity church has been able to purchase a monitor for inside the church. They are using it to broadcast a live bat camera from their bat box, as well as advertising information on events and ways to get involved with the church.

The church of St Peter and St Paul in Heydon, Norfolk have used their winnings to buy a projector and a screen to host bat related events and talks.

And the Little Rissington community in Gloucester have used their Tesco funds to buy a couple of Echo Meter Touch bat detectors to use for bat walks at the church. This is particularly exciting for the students of the local CE school which took part in our Bats in Churches workshop with great enthusiasm and are keen to learn more.

School Workshops

We’ve received some fantastic feedback from the pupils that have taken part the Bats in Churches workshops this year. These have been full day sessions packed with activities that look at the issues bats can cause in churches and how to address them, bat behaviour, and the importance of churches to communities, as well as some rip roaring games of ‘Bat and Moth’!

Some of the wonderful comments that we received from the pupils are below:

‘There is much more to bats than just fluttery things that fly about at night’

‘We loved it when we looked for evidence of bats’

‘I liked how we got to see the bat droppings!’

Students at Pembridge CE primary school learning about echolocation
Students at Pembridge CE primary school learning about echolocation

Since Janauary 2019 we've completed over 150 church visits

Spotlight on Gayton Thorpe

St Mary’s Church in Gayton Thorpe, Norfolk were suffering under the cleaning burden of their bat colony. Thanks to the innovative and hard work of ecologist Phil Parker, the church was able to benefit from a re-routing of the bat colony to stop them flying through the interior of the church, while allowing them to remain living in the roof.

The church now hosts one of the largest colonies of soprano pipistrelle bats in Norfolk, with very little impact on the inside of the church, and are aiming to encourage even more bats to make the church their home.

The project will be helping by expanding the space provided for the bats and improving the efficiency of their exit route, as well as providing access to the roost so that it can be routinely cleaned and the addition of a camera so visitors will be able see what they’re up to.

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Finally

We’ll take our leave with an extract from a charming poem written by Fiona Hunt from All Saints’ Church in Great Horkesley, Essex where serotine bats made themselves known over Christmas!

There I was, hanging about, doing me winter sleep,
When people started traipsing in, enough to make you weep.
Some were carrying fir trees, goodness knows what for,
There were bits of glitter, coloured balls and leaves all over the floor.
After a lot of fiddling about they all went home to eat,
"Oh good" I thought, "Peace at last" but there's glitter all over me feet,
So back I go at last to sleep,
but, oh no!, sad to say,
Two days later they all came back and took the lot away.