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Rare bat roost found in forest

By Joseph Gartly
Rare bat roost found in forest

A RARE species of bat has taken up a maternity roost in Galloway Forest Park — only the second confirmed site in Scotland.

Although widely distributed throughout the British Isles, Leisler’s bat is not common in Scotland and to find maternity roosts is very rare.

With 27 adult females nesting in the Galloway Forest, Enterprise Scotland environment forester Gareth Ventress said: “Since 2010, a group of bat experts and volunteers have been trying to find out more about the rare Leisler’s Bat in Scotland.

“At first we knew that bat boxes on the National Forest Estate were being used by Leisler’s bats in the Cree Valley and Glentrool area of Galloway.

“Unfortunately there was no evidence of breeding at all.”

He added: “Over the next few years, research continued but it proved difficult to find any signs of breeding.

“In 2016 we did find a juvenile male Leisler’s in Galloway which confirmed that there must be a roost nearby.

“The team decided to come back again this July and were successful in finding lactating Leisler’s bats with the help of sonic lures and specialist bat nets.”

Gareth explains that three adult female bats were radio-tagged, allowing them to be tracked to their maternity roosts where they have their pups in late summer.

He said: “We’re really pleased that our forests are providing a safe haven for this wonderful and rare bat.”

Leisler’s is a mid-sized bat around 5 to 7cm long with a wingspan of between 26 to 32 cm and is one of just ten bat species found in Scotland.

All ten species can be found in Galloway Forest, including the only known Scottish Brandt’s bat roost.

In Galloway, the bat is found in several locations using bat boxes.

The males will fly around a roost slowly calling females to join his harem which can contain up to nine females.

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