In Jersey we are lucky to have 18 species of bats living on our island, although some are so rare that we only have single records.
However, we have a few species that are commonly encountered, one of those being the Grey Long-eared bat.
As the name suggests, these bats have long ears that they use to listen for the sounds of their prey whilst out hunting.
Even though this species is commonly encountered we still know very little about its ecology in Jersey.
Pictured: "It has also clearly emerged that our Grey Long-eared bats are a lot more common than their Brown cousins, and as our encounter rate increased, we noticed that the information about this species was not that accurate."
Although we have known about this species on the island since 1963, no specific research has been undertaken locally. Instead, there has been an over-reliance on information from the UK relating to our bats.
Because of this for a long time, it was assumed, like the UK that Grey Long-eared were very rare and that Brown Long-eared (a cousin species) were the more common of the two.
However, in recent years it has become clear that for our bat's ecology we do not follow the UK but instead a more continental European assemblage (not a real surprise given proximity).
It has also clearly emerged that our Grey Long-eared bats are a lot more common than their Brown cousins, and as our encounter rate increased, we noticed that the information about this species was not that accurate.
As such the conservation actions that were being put into place did not reflect the local ecology of the bats. Grey Long-eared bats are a species that has closely adapted and evolved alongside human settlements. Using buildings such as barns and large attic spaces to roost and feeding over open pastures and around orchards.
They play a vital role in our island's ecosystem as one of our nocturnal apex predators serving as natural pest control. Because of this association with buildings, they are more often coming into conflict with properties being renovated either to restore an older property or even home improvements such as insulation and energy-efficient homes are posing a risk to this species.
Pictured: "Because of this association with buildings, they are more often coming into conflict with properties being renovated either to restore an older property or even home improvements such as insulation and energy-efficient homes are posing a risk to this species."
Across Europe, the species has recently been upgraded to an amber listed species indicating a downward trend in population and are listed as critically endangered on the UK red list.
This is where the Jersey Grey Long-eared project comes in. Facilitated through Sangan Island Conservation Ltd, the project is dedicated to undertaking specific research to understand the ecology of this species on the island and to help direct appropriate conservation actions.
At present, the project is monitoring several maternity roosts including one of significant size to see trends in the number of bats and the seasonal and yearly shift in numbers. The project is also undertaking an analysis of where these bats are found on the island, the type of structures they are using and the number of bats at each site.
So far, the project has had a fantastic response from several property owners but would like to hear from anyone who believes they may have these bats on their property.
If you believe you may have bats in your attic, outbuilding or barn please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, the information collected can help conserve this species and reduce the risk of conflict allowing this fantastic species to continue to live alongside us.
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