Safeguarding lesser horseshoe bats in the upper Usk Valley
The Our Beacon for Bats project is a three- year project, funded by the Brecon Beacons Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural Resources Wales, which is building on lesser horseshoe bat conservation work carried out by The Vincent Wildlife Trust over many years.
The project area covers the Usk Valley in South Wales, from Brecon to Crickhowell (see map to the right), which has one of the most significant populations of lesser horseshoe bats in Europe. Here, the Trust manages five lesser horseshoe bat maternity roosts and this project takes the conservation of the bats one step further, beyond their roosts and into the wider landscape.
We are raising awareness of the importance of lesser horseshoe bats in the upper Usk Valley by working with local people, schools and community groups and providing opportunities for people to learn about the ecology and environmental needs of this bat species. We are also providing local landowners with guidance towards enhancing a lesser horseshoe bat landscape, together with identifying important landscape features for the bats in order to help inform local land-use decisions.
To keep up-to-date with the progress of the project you can read our e-newsletters, produced March 2012 and December 2012 (also available in Welsh).
You can view live footage from a webcam at the Trust's most important lesser horseshoe bat maternity roost in the Usk Valley here. During the daytime in the summer there are often 50-60 individual bats visible on the webcam! Have a look at dusk and you may be able to see the bats flying around inside the roost before they emerge at sunset.
We've set up three trial kit-set night roosts (see image on right) in woodland to see how quickly they will be adopted by lesser horseshoe bats as resting sites during the night. After less than a month, one of our night roosts has been used by bats. Previous work showed that radio-tagged lesser horseshoe bats foraged in the wet woodland where we installed the successful night roost. Lesser horseshoe bats left evidence of their visits in the form of numerous distinctive droppings and insect remains.
Please keep an eye on this page or contact project officer Jane Sedgeley for information on upcoming events.
WANTED - Hibernation sites
A lack of hibernation sites may be a limiting factor for lesser horseshoe bats in the upper Usk Valley. Please contact Jane if you know of any ice houses, unheated cellars or WW2 pillboxes in the area.
The Our Beacon for Bats project is kindly funded by the Brecon Beacons Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural Resources Wales.