Devon Wildlife Trust is calling on Devon residents to participate in its annual Devon Bat Survey, now entering its ninth year.

The survey is believed to be one of the county's most significant citizen science projects and has already collected more than 1.3 million bat records. 

Commencing on May 7, 2024, the Devon Bat Survey requires volunteers to host electronic bat detectors in their gardens for three consecutive nights. No prior experience is necessary. These detectors, which pick up ultrasonic signals emitted by bats during their nighttime flights, provide invaluable data on bat populations.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Lindsay Mahon coordinates the bat survey as part of her work for Saving Devon's Treescapes project. Lindsay said: "Last year, our wonderful volunteer bat detectives recorded more than 350,000 bat passes – that is, records of bats flying by. Many of these were common kinds of bat such as pipistrelles, but the surveys also turned up several rarities including threatened greater horseshoe bats.

"The results of the bat survey provide us with an invaluable insight into the habits of these fascinating animals. We use its results to help direct our work to where it's needed most.

"We encourage people of all ages, in all parts of the county, to join in... All we ask is that you place your detector in a secure location, follow the instructions we provide, and then enjoy your results."

Participants can select their preferred survey dates and then collect their bat detectors from one of 12 designated host centres across the county. Following three nights of data collection, participants return the bat detector and upload their recordings to an online system. This system analyses the sounds captured, providing insights into the types of bats detected during the survey.

Lindsay Mahon from the Devon Wildlife Trust deploys bat detector (Devon Wildlife Trust)

Volunteering is free; interested individuals can sign up on the Devon Wildlife Trust website. Bookings for bat detectors open on May 7 on the website at The Tamar Valley Centre in Gunnislake, West Devon, serves as the nearest host centre for volunteers to collect their detectors. Please note that a booking must be made before collecting a bat detector.