First time out for rare bats

A RARE species of bat is beginning to thrive in woodland near St Neots thanks to an £11,000 conservation project. The barbastelle bats - known as Starbeards - have been found in Waresley Woods, between Waresley and Great Gransden. It is believed to be th

A RARE species of bat is beginning to thrive in woodland near St Neots thanks to an £11,000 conservation project.

The barbastelle bats - known as Starbeards - have been found in Waresley Woods, between Waresley and Great Gransden.

It is believed to be the first time the bats, one of the country's rarest breeds, have been found in the woods, which are part of a project being run by The Wildlife Trust.

Funded by RWE power, the Saving Starbeard Project has enabled the trust to make improvements to woodlands in Cambridgeshire.


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The work includes making cuts, crannies and holes in the trees to mimic natural roosts, creating perfect homes for bats, as well as providing natural feeding areas.

Emma Pollard, business development manager of the trust in the East of England, said: "The work carried out for the Saving Starbeard Project is already paying off for the rare species.

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"For the first time ever, barbastelle bats have been found in Waresley Woods, which is fantastic news."

Barbastelles are medium sized bats, with silky brown fur with whitish tips, giving them a frosted appearance.

The name barbastelle derives from the Latin for 'star beard' which refers to the beard of white hairs on the lower lip.

Emma added: "This species has become very rare in the UK.

"In Cambridgeshire, which is the least wooded county in England, it is vital that we maintain our woodlands to provide for starbeard and a variety of other wildlife that rely on this habitat."

In 2001 there were reportedly just five colonies of barbastelle bats identified in the UK. The loss of woodlands from across the country has been blamed for the decline in these bats, which can live into their early 20s.

INFORMATION: The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough manages more than 135 nature reserves, covering 5,500 acres, working to protect rare species and save countryside sites that are under threat.

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