2013 saw the launch of the countywide Norfolk Bat Survey led by Dr Stuart Newson of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) from its headquarters at Thetford. The survey relied on community participation, with a network of bat monitoring centres set up across the county and from where members of the public could borrow bat recording equipment to set up in their gardens and other areas where bats were known, or likely, to be present.
The results were amazing. Over 350,000 individual bat recordings were made during the course of the year, involving a total of 13 different bat species. The Brecks proved to be one the best areas for bats in East Anglia, thanks to its few urban centres, some of the lowest light pollution rates in lowland England and extensive swathes of good habitat – all factors that help bats. One issue however in last year’s survey was uneven coverage: there are huge parts of the Brecks where no recording has been done, especially on the Suffolk side, and where we simply do not know which bats are present and in what numbers. This is why the Society decided to create the Breckland Bat Project.