So this morning I got up at 4am.... you might wonder why as I didn't have to be in the office until 9.
The answer is bats! As part of an assessment of the environment in Alderney myself and Rob, the conservation officer, have been up early and out late looking at places we think bats might roost. We get up before sunrise to see where bats enter the roost site and how many then for the same site we also watch at sunset to see how many bats emerge at sunset. Have you ever been on a bat walk?
In the UK there are 17 species of bat, however here on Alderney we only have 3. These are the Common Pipestrelle, the Soprano Pipestrelle and the Grey Long-eared bat. The Pipestrelle is the smallest British bat, with a wing span of only around 22cms and a body length of just 4cms. These tiny mammals need to eat thousands of insects a night to keep their fast metabolism going. The Grey Long-eared is rare in Britain but being slightly further south we have a decent population here.
Bat populations have fallen dramatically all over the world but especially in Europe, England and here in Alderney. For bats to do well they need a healthy environment which is rich in insects. These insects not only feed the bats but they help to pollinate flowers and remove rubbish, so when bat numbers drop we have to worry about what is happening the environment we live in. In Europe every species of bat is protected by law, meaning htat is a building is a roost site you cannot disturb the bats without doing something to compensate for this or moving your project elsewhere. To handle a bat in the UK you must have a special license.
Because the Channel Islands are not part of the UK none of the environmental or species protection laws apply. This can make our work more difficult as we do not have a special law backing up our work.
Can you think of any other species protected in the UK by law?
The laws in the UK help species by protecting their habitats and species that are in decline. Without these laws many species would be in a worse state than they are in now. We hope that one day soon Alderney will have some more laws to help us conserve and protect the species here - this is something the AWT are working with states members on now.