The beautiful surroundings of Cherry Hinton Hall has been home to Cambridge Folk festival since 1965 and spending a weekend enjoying incredible music surrounded by this beauty has been a draw for many people to return to the Festival year after year. A few days a year the vast green space is transformed from peaceful parkland into a bustling mini village but for the rest of the year its fairly quiet and this allows nature to thrive. This interesting contrast between busy and quiet peaked the interest of the Bats at Festivals Project as it makes it the perfect environment for them to observe how urbanisation might affect bats in the UK. Project Co-ordinators Daisy Finniear and Dr Paul Lintott from the University of West England who are running the project alongside the Bats Conservation Trust took the time to answer a few of our questions, read on to find out what they are getting up to during the Festival weekend...
Please tell us more about the Bats at Festivals Project?
Even the most widespread and adaptable UK bat species are negatively affected by increasing urbanised areas. It is therefore vital from a conservation perspective to understand how bats respond to light and noise pollution and what solution we can put in place to minimise the impact. It is logistically difficult to survey within cities, therefore the University of the West of England in collaboration with the Bat Conservation Trust is running the ‘Bats at Festivals’ project. For most of the year, festival sites will be unimpacted by human disturbances but for a couple of weekends, festivals create similar levels of noise and light disturbance as cities. Although this will have no long-term impact on bats in the area it gives us a great insight into how bats respond to noise and light levels which are equivalent to cities.
Why have you chosen to survey the Bats at Cherry Hinton Hall during the Festival Weekend?
Cherry Hinton Hall contains great habitat for bats. Bats preferentially feed around water and trees, and Cherry Hinton Hall has both! We will be surveying the site, before, during and after the festival to assess how bat activity differs. In comparison to some of the more rural festivals we are surveying, it may be that the bats around Cherry Hinton Hall are already relatively adapted to noise and light and won’t be impacted by the festival – it will be interesting to find out!
What species of Bat you are hoping to see during the survey?
We are lucky enough to have 18 species of bat in the UK and we could easily record at least half of the species within the survey. We are most likely to record common and soprano pipistrelle’s during our survey as they are the most numerous and can adapt to certain levels of urbanisation. We have our fingers crossed to record the serotine bat, which is one of Britain’s largest bat species and usually one of the first to appear in the evening, often emerging in good light. It has been recorded in Cambridge before so hopefully we’ll find it around Cherry Hinton Hall!
Do you have any predictions about how the Bats behaviour might change during the Festival?
We expect bat behaviour to differ during the festival depending on which species we encounter. Some of the more common bat species in the UK have become very adept at using street lighting for their advantage and feed on the insects which accumulate around them. Conversely, some species such as the brown long eared bat have sensitive low frequency hearing and often locate prey from the sounds made by the insect’s own movements, we would expect to see their foraging activity reduce during the festival.
Can people come and watch you taking the survey?
Certainly! We are happy for people to come and chat to us, have a listen to the bat species we are recording and enjoy the experience of watching bats flying above us whilst listening to great music!
Where can people find out more about the Bats at Festivals project and see the results of the Cherry Hinton Survey?
We will have accumulated and analysed our results by Autumn and we hope to publish them soon after. We will share our findings during the Cherry Hinton Hall survey on social media so that everyone who attended the festival can find out which bat species they shared the night time with! We are also very happy to come back in 2019 and present our findings!
To find out more about the Bats Conservation Trust please visit their Website here - http://www.bats.org.uk/
(Photo credit (c): Hugh Clark)