The bats of Ploughman Wood

Ploughman Wood is a stunning Nottinghamshire woodland and host to a number of species of bats, with just a little helping hand from the Notts Bat Group.
The bat boxes of Ploughman Wood

A few of the bat boxes of Ploughman Wood.  They are installed three per tree to provide different aspects and temperatures

The Nottinghamshire Bat Group installed a number of bat boxes in Ploughman Wood in 2014 to provide bat roosting sites and to allow us to discover which species use the wood.  Three types of box were installed; the standard bat box (similar to a bird box but with a slot at the bottom rather than a hole at the front), Kent bat boxes which have two narrow crevices which replicate the cracks of an old tree, and some hibernation boxes which are made of very thick wood with a very narrow internal chamber which are similar to old woodpecker or rot hole in a tree trunk.

We found our first bat, a soprano pipistrelle, the following year and in September 2016 were very surprised to find two barbastelle bats together in one of the boxes.  Barbastelle are a very rare species in Britain and were only recorded in Nottinghamshire for the first time in 2011 at a site about 5 miles away from Ploughman Wood.  The Nottinghamshire population are at the northernmost edge of their range in the UK and have been recorded on bat detectors at several new locations in the county over the last five years. 

Barbastelle bat viewed from below in a Ploughman Wood bat box

A Barbastelle bat in a Kent bat box.  The orange 'ear rings' are the larvae of chigger mites and are quite common on barbastelle.

In January 2019 we added a new type of ‘eco’ box which re-use polystyrene from old fish market boxes mixed with cement to form a long lasting and well insulated box.  These new boxes which were funded by a Countryside Stewardship grant have proved to be very popular with Soprano pipistrelles and we regularly record groups of up to nine bats in a box.  Brown long-eared, barbastelle and whiskered/Brandt’s have also been recorded in the ‘eco’ boxes. 

Noctule bat - Ploughman Wood - Michael Walker

A noctule bat in one of the hibernation boxes.  It's close relative Leisler's bat has also been recorded in the wood.

Most of the boxes can be surveyed from the ground, causing the bats very minimal disturbance, by surveyors with the appropriate licence from Natural England.  They are checked twice a month and to date we have recorded seven species.

The highest number of bats are found between October and March with much lower numbers over the summer months. 

Numbers have increased since 2016 with a recent (February 2020) of 55 pipistrelle bats the highest count so far.