The Danbury Barbastelle Project

What is The Danbury Barbastelle Project ?

This project is investigating how barbastelle bats use the Danbury Living Landscape which is a managed landscape to the east of Chelmsford. It is a mosaic of woodland, common land, heathland and farmland. The Project was formally launched in 2019.

The objectives are :

  • To produce a barbastelle distribution map for the Danbury Living Landscape
  • To confirm the presence of one or more maternity colonies within the Danbury Living Landscape
  • To identify core roosting areas
  • To identify core foraging areas
  • To identify core commuting routes
  • To improve conservation advice to landowners within the Danbury Living Landscape

Why Barbastelle? Why Danbury?

The Barbastelle is a species of conservation concern due to population decline across Europe and is therefore given additional legal protection. Barbastelle were the target species of Essex Bat Group’s Woodland Bat Project (EWBP) between 2016 and 2018. This project aimed to map the current distribution of barbastelle in Essex and it found more records in the northern half of the county than the south. Barbastelle were found to be present at a number of sites in the Danbury area. Located centrally this area appears to be on the south eastern edge of their range. The information gained in this project will be used to find, understand and protect the areas used by barbastelle.

Less than handful of  barbastelle roost are known about in Essex and these are in the north west of the county close to the border with Hertfordshire.  The Danbury Barbastelle Project will  look into whether barbastelle are breeding in the Danbury Living Landscape so they can be protected. We will be working with landowners in the Living Landscape to improve habitat for the barbastelle.

In December 2019  Natural England approved our Project Licence application.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2021

Just prior to the national lockdown in 2020 we found our first Barbastelle tree roost. We have also also found tree roosts of both Common and Soprano Pipstrelle , Daubentons, Natterers, Noctule and Brown Long Eared since project started.

Phase 1 of the project started in 2019 using static bat detectors to record bat calls  at various woods in the Danbury area throughout the year. We have found Barbastelle to be active all year round and present at every wood we have surveyed. Some woods have produced evidence of enough activity to suggest these are very important to barbastelle and some are likely being used by a maternity colony. We have also been surveying many of the trees at these woods and recording the best potential roost features and following up with ground, tree climbing survey and emergence surveys.

How can I get involved ?

To achieve its objectives, the project will implement a phased approach using a variety of survey methodologies some of which will be carried out under licence such as trapping and endoscope surveys.

There will also be a number of acoustic surveys and ground truthing exercises which will include activity not requiring a licence.

If you are a member of Essex Bat Group and want to register your interest in helping with this exciting project please email the Danbury Project Team at danburyweald@essexbatgroup.org