The National Trust for Scotland’s (NTS) Threave Estate, near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway is a fantastic place for bats. More bats can be found here than any other place in Scotland. Its mixed habitat provides for seven different species, including the rare whiskered bat.
In 2011, supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) the estate launched Scotland’s first dedicated Bat Reserve as a centre for education and research, where everyone can participate and learn more about protecting bats and their habitats.
NTS Nature Conservation Officer Lindsay Mackinlay said: “Threave is the perfect spot for Scotland’s first bat reserve. Home to a diverse population, its buildings and woodlands provide plenty of roosting spots and its beautiful gardens, rich meadows and wetlands mean an abundance of insects for bats to feed on”. This fantastic mix of biodiversity makes it the perfect place to support a diverse range of species.
Whilst protecting bats and their habitats, the reserve is also a centre of learning and research and increases public awareness of how to live in harmony with these nocturnal flying mammals.
Visitors to Threave are able to take part in a ‘bat trail’ and learn more about where the mammals roost at the property and the seven species that have made their home there. The Interactive Learning Zone gives visitors the opportunity to learn bat-detecting skills, including getting their ear in at listening to different species of bats.
A Senior Ranger for Threave said: “The bat reserve is proving a big success. As well as contributing to the scientific study of these mysterious mammals, we are finding that the public are very interested in our bat tours and enjoying the opportunity to try out some bat scanning for themselves.
“This helps people understand the animals more and encourages their care and protection, which is good news for these small, vulnerable creatures”.
Both bats and their roosts are protected by law in the UK. Over the past century, their populations have suffered serious decline, however there are signs which suggest some species numbers are starting to stabilise and recover.
More information about the bat reserve can be found at http://www.nts.org.uk/Wildlife/Mammals/ThreaveBatReserve/