30 Days Wild – Day 7: Reading Bat Calls

There is more to the wild world than what we can see and hear with our own senses. True they are good, but when you enhance their capabilities through technology you are introduced to a new range of experiences. This includes the use of data loggers and recorders that we can leave running in one location busily recording away in our absence so we can, well, sleep. A bat detector is a great example of this.

I am starting a new bat survey project this weekend and, like all good scientists (and pessimists) I am testing the kit. Having put the detector in a distinctly average location in my garden I wasn’t exactly expecting much. Really, what you want is an uncluttered landscape, with hedgerows or trees but our garden really isn’t big enough to be described as ‘clutter-free’.

Handily this does not seem to have mattered – the bats came anyway:


Analook file – Common Pipistrelle (using AnaBat Express, courtesy of Horseshoe Bat Project, Devon Wildlife Trust). Photo credit: Em

What we seem to have in our garden is a common pipistrelle – You can tell from the backwards facing hockey stick shape with a peak frequency of around 45kHz (cycles not visible in this view). What is really neat is that most bat calls ‘look’ quite different when displayed like this so it is a valid way of identifying the bat species present. You can even see different types of calls, such as social calls and hunting activity (known as a feeding buzz) in the way the calls change in frequency and duration.

The project I will be working on is looking at the impact of very fine scale habitat features on the Greater Horseshoe Bat here in South Devon. The Horseshoe Bat call is very distinctive (when represented visually in Analook) and I am hoping to pick them up at a couple of the sites selected for surveying.

While the software is free the detectors are very much not and I am very grateful to the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project and kind people from the Devon Wildlife Trust for the loan of these detectors.

With the test complete I am ready to start deploying them for the first survey window later this week 🙂



2 thoughts on “30 Days Wild – Day 7: Reading Bat Calls

  1. Pingback: 30 Days Wild: Day 12 – Horseshoes | Nature watching in South Devon

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