The Grey long-eared bat needs our help. With UK population estimates as low as 1000, they are our rarest bat and one of our most ‘at risk’ mammals.
A grey long-eared bat’s ears are nearly as long as the body, but are not always obvious; when at rest they curl their ears back like rams horns, or tuck them away completely under their wings leaving only the pointed inner lobe of the ear (the tragus) visible.
They prefer to forage over open spaces, such as meadows, grassland, gardens and near forest edges, up to 6km away from the roost.
Also known as a whispering bat, these ‘true night riders’ feed on moths and other insects, but their echolocation is so quiet they can hover in front of fluttering moths undetected before catching the unsuspecting prey!
Why are they in trouble?
With only 8 known maternity roosts remaining in the UK, two are located in East Devon within the Axe Valley and form a vital link between the other colonies across the south coast of England and the two colonies in south Devon.
But there’s a risk of losing this link and colonies becoming isolated from each other, as foraging sites and commuting routes disappear and are fragmented by landscape changes resulting from changing agricultural practices.
The risk with colonies becoming increasingly isolated is that there is no mixing of genetic materials between colonies, which is vital for the long term survival of the species.
grey long-eared bats left in the UK
How will we help this special species?
Working in partnership with Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) our ‘Return of the True Night Rider’ project will focus on improving this crucial connectivity to the known roosts in Dorset – enhancing foraging and commuting routes to the east of the AONB and into the neighbouring county.
We will then aim to make the populations we know about more robust by:
- Enhancing the floral interest of 18 ha of grassland, this will support a greater diversity of insects which will support the bats, as well as other animals, and will also improve the amount of carbon stored in the soil.
- Funding a Project Officer to work with 50 local landowners and farmers to tell them more about how to manage their land for the bats.
- Employing an Engagement Officer to work with local communities to raise the profile of this very rare species and enhance local understanding of the value of flower rich meadows and the challenges the bats face in the landscape.
Find out more
Watch this presentation from Craig Dunton, our landscape management advisor, and find out all about the project, why the grey long-eared bat is in trouble and how we can help support this special species.
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