Bats in Ease Gill Caves

 

Hibernating Whiskered Eared bat in Link Pot

What’s a Bat?

 The only MAMMAL (order Chiroptera) capable of true flight. Numbering between 1,000 and 2,000 species, bats range in size from less than 1 in. (2.5 cm) to 15 in. (45 cm), with a wingspan of from less than 2 in. (5 cm) to 5 ft (150 cm). The body is furry and mouse like, with the forelimbs and extensions of the skin of the back and belly modified to form wings. Bats are most abundant in the tropics, and temperate species often hibernate or migrate to warmer areas in the winter. Most species frequent crevices, caves, or buildings, and are active at night or twilight; they roost during the day, often in large numbers and usually hanging by their feet. Most bats see well but depend on echo location to navigate in the dark. Bats are fruit-eaters (fruit, nectar, pollen) or insect-eaters (fruit, insects, small animals, and fish); one species, the South American vampire bat, feeds exclusively on the blood of living animals, chiefly mammals.Though there are lots of bat species worldwide there are only 14 in the UK and not all those occur in the north of England e.g. no Horseshoe bats in the north.  

Bats in Link Pot

 In 2007 BBC Autumnwatch programme visited Bullpot Farm and Casterton Fell to film the bat roost in Link Pot – see link above

Bats in Ease Gill – How to Report your sightings 

Bats have been seen in a wide variety of sites within the Ease Gill Cave System and its associated caves, including County Pot, Lancaster Hole, Link Pot and Pippikin and caves on Leck Fell             

Report from Bat Research Group at the University of Leeds 

They are most likely to be seen near entrances (in the first 100 m or so), but they can be seen far into the system too. The most numerous species is Natterer’s bat, but the other species are not uncommon. We catch and ring the bats in the autumn at entrances – by far the most effective method – so we can estimate population sizes and follow movements. It is early days in the Ease Gill study, but bats from other caves in the Dales and North York Moors, that we have studied for longer, are known to travel 70 km or more between summer sites and their mating/hibernation sites in caves. One bat we ringed has been caught at Dow Cave in Wharfedale and Slip Gill in the North York Moors. Ease gill will probably turn out to have a visiting bat population that runs into thousands, perhaps many thousands, from all over Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire – our early work suggest it is going to be a very important site, as you might expect! Left photo: Brown Long Eared batin Short Drop Cave on Leck Fell.  We will be making occasional underground visits over the winter and will be catching again in the spring when the bats emerge from hibernation. Most of the catching is done at Link Pot, but we do go to other entrances. If any Red Rose members or others are interested in seeing bats close up in the spring, they can get in touch with me j.d.altringham@leeds.ac.uk or Anita Glover bgyamg@leeds.ac.uk. We are there for the first few hours after sunset.  This is just an ‘interim report’ – A more detailed report and photos will appear later If you have spotted bats in the caves please pass on your reports to:         

 Anita Glover & John Altringham,
Ecology & Evolution Group
School of Biology
Univ of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT

 See North Yorkshire Bat Group and
The Bat Conservation Trustfor more info 

Cavers can do their bit for bat conservation and extending the limited knowledge of the distribution of bats by noting any instances of bats they come across underground. They might not see the bats themselves but might find evidence of the bats’ existence e.g. droppings or feeding debris such as flies’ wings and beetle wing cases on dry ledges at the side of passages etc. One of Red Rose Cave & Pothole Club members sends on bat observations to the Lancashire Bat Group. She is Helen Sargant and can be contacted at  info@managerie.co.uk

We have good evidence now that at least five species of bat (Natterer’s, Daubenton’s, whiskered, Brandt’s and brown long-eared) use the system in the autumn for mating (when they gather in substantial numbers after dark, making temporary visits from their summer roosts) and in the winter for hibernation (when most of them are well hidden). We have found roosting bats or evidence of bats in virtually every part of the system we have examined. 

 Bats & the Law

All bats are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Iti s illegal intentionally to kill, injure or take any bat; to disturb roosting bats; or to damage, destroy or to obstruct access to any place used by bats for roosting. English Nature must be consulted over any proposed alteration to a site known to be used by bats, for example by installing a grillee or opening for public access. This also applies to any industrial development.             

Bat Conservation Code

  • Do not handle bats
  • Do not photograph roosting bats
  • Do not warm up hibernating bats
  • Do not shine bright lights on bats
  •  Do not use carbide lights in bat roosts
  •  Do not smoke or make excessive noise underground
  •  Do not take large parties into bats roosts in winter
  •  Do seek advice before blasting or digging
  •  More Conservation information on the Ease Gill Cave System is available on the link below Cave Conservation   

Cave Biology

Graham Proudlove of the Northern Pennine Club g.proudlove@umist.ac.uk can be contacted with any general cave biology questions. Any he cannot answer he can locate answers for. It is more likely that general questions about UK bats or cave biology will be answered this way.            

Contact the BCRA Cave Biology Group            

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