Bats are a staple in Halloween iconography, portrayed in literature, film and horror imagery as being the most active over the Halloween period by swarming and sucking on the blood of human victims. We all know that this isn’t the reality but it offers up the question – what are bats really up to at this time of year?
We’re getting into the spirit of Halloween in The Ecology Consultancy London office with bat themed masks, costumes and bat baked goods, so we thought we’d take the time to help demystify some common misconceptions about bat activity over the Halloween period.
Bat activity and Halloween
In the UK bats are actually a lot less active in the Autumn due to the cooler, wetter conditions. Bats have their young in May to June, fatten up through August and September and in October they become less active as the weather deteriorates and insect prey become less available. In winter, bats hibernate to conserve energy and begin to wake up in March, but like in Autumn are less active due to cooler weather.
Bats use different roosts for each of these stages of the year. Bats like to roost in crevices, which are found under lifted or broken roof tiles, in cracks in the wall and woodpecker holes and other damaged trees, rock faces, caves, tunnels. Any built or natural structure where they can keep warm and dry could form a roost.
As there is no guarantee that bats will emerge to forage during the colder months it means that bat activity surveys can’t be carried out until the weather warms again in May.
What this means for construction, development & planning applications
A lot of developers are delayed by neglecting to investigate for the presence of bats on their sites. If you consider bats in the early stages of your planning process, any issues can be easily identified and necessary measures can be taken to facilitate your development whilst protecting these vulnerable animals. Consideration of bats is part of the planning process. If not investigated early on, your planning application could be delayed by up to a year so get ahead and plan your assessments now.
Why you should plan an Initial Assessment
Conducting roost assessment of trees and buildings inform the need for bat surveys that are seasonally restricted. These can be carried out any time of year although it’s best to carry out tree assessments in winter as it’s easier to inspect the tree more easily for suitable features such as crevices whilst the trees are bare. Carrying out initial assessments sooner will help you identify and plan if any further surveys are required during bat survey season thus minimising the impact on your development schedule further down the line.
Bat survey season
The Ecology Consultancy has a number of bat specialists including Natural England Licensed bat ecologists able to carry out bat activity surveys between March-October, bat emergence surveys to establish the presence and use of roosts usually between May-August, and bat hibernation surveys carried out Dec-Feb.
Contact us to get ahead with your planning applications and construction works and to avoid the horror of potential delays and mounting costs. If bat assessments are carried out before spring, then bat activity surveys can be planned early on in the season in May.
Unlike actual bat species, the “bats” in our London office are very active this time of year, feasting on cakes and biscuits and bidding farewell to one of our departing HS2 field team members as they prepare for Halloween.