A SURVEY of bats in Dalby and Cropton forests has revealed a healthy number of the animals.

The Forestry Commission, which manages Dalby and Cropton forests, has several locations throughout the woods where it has put up bat boxes to provide roosting sites.

The boxes are checked each spring and autumn by volunteers, who also put in a significant amount of work repairing older boxes.

Cath Bashforth, an ecologist at the Forestry Commission Yorkshire District, said: “We have several sites throughout Dalby and Cropton forests where we have put up bat boxes to help these little furry mammals.

“This autumn 71 bats of six different species were found in the boxes – from our smallest, the soprano pipistrelle, to our largest, the noctule.

“The other species were common pipistrelle, natterers, daubenton’s bats and brown long-eared bats.

“This is a healthy number and what we’d hope to see from a survey.

“Many thanks to the volunteers who help make these bat box checks possible.”

The surveys have been running for 20 years, although there was a gap between 2011 and this year.

Ms Bashforth said that the re-commencement of the bat box checks was also driven by volunteers.

She added that the general population trend in recent years appears to be upwards.

“The figures of total number of bats found in 2011 - which is when it was last checked - were lower than this year so there has been an increase in number of bats using the boxes,” she said.

At this time of year, with winter on the way, bats are finding mates and also building up fat reserves so they can survive the winter season - a time when fewer insects are in flight. They are also beginning periods of inactive ‘torpor’.

In November, according to the Bat Conservation Trust, the periods of torpor last longer, and by December, the Trust say that bats are hibernating.

They may roost on their own or in small groups, often in cool, quiet places like disused buildings, old trees or caves, where they hopefully won’t be disturbed.