At the end of my masters I attended a weekend course on bat ID at Preston Montford FSC. It was somewhat of a homecoming actually as that centre is where I did my first ever small mammal trapping course some years earlier.
It just proves what a small world ecology can be; as I walked into the centre with my bags, I bumped into the consultant ecologist I had spent two seasons doing freelance bat surveys for (she was there for a newt course being run at the same time). The centre was buzzing with people all weekend due to the number of different courses running, I would have liked to have been able to socialise a bit more to be honest but as it turned out – I had far too much work to do!
On the first night, while everyone else was having a nice little welcome evening with cheese, crackers and even local beer, us bat lot were wandering around the gardens, detector in hand.
The weekend included: natural histroy and ecology, ID in the hand, recognising calls on a heterodyne detector, site assessments, and other surveying methods. After some very full days and a late night trying to squeeze it all in, we finished the course with a test on the Monday. The test was a tough one and we all came out fearing the worst, but I later found out I had done pretty well. Despite all the hard work and the lack of time to really enjoy the surroundings or other people, I thoroughly enjoyed this weekend, it indulges my geeky side to be fully immersed like that. Another reason I particularly enjoyed this course was the excellent delivery by Rebecca Collins, who runs her own consultancy in the West Midlands.
I would thoroughly recommend this course to interested beginners, and even to any ecologists just starting out. It wasn’t geared specifically to commercial bat surveys but did cover some of the basic site assessment, surveying and mitigation techniques.