The British Bat Survey (BBatS) is a new national survey of British bats. Over the past year we have been developing the survey and would like your help to test this out. The BBatS uses a new low-cost bat sensor called AudioMoth with the aim of making it possible for everyone from bat survey experts to complete novices to participate. We hope that you enjoy taking part!
If you are a tweeter, please keep us (@_BCT_) updated with the hashtag #BritishBatSurvey.
The pilot is organised into a number of consecutive stages:
- Selecting Your Survey Grid Square
- Receiving Your Survey Kit
- Preparing For Your Survey
- Conducting Your Bat Survey
- Collecting Your AudioMoth
- Returning Your Survey Data
- Receiving Your Survey Results
1. Selecting Your Survey Grid Square
The first step is to select a 1 km grid square within which to conduct your survey. Please choose a grid square that contains a location that you have permission to survey, i.e not private land unless you have already obtained permission to survey from the landowner. You will be required to leave your AudioMoth overnight, so consider where you are happy to leave it unattended for one night.
Use the British Bat Survey Grid Square Selector to select your grid square, during which you will be asked to double-click on your chosen square, enter your name and email address and click ‘Request square’.
Once you have selected your grid square, you will receive an email within a few days confirming whether your grid square choice has been accepted.
Now please complete this first short questionnaire about your experience of the British Bat Survey so far. You will be asked to complete two additional questionnaires as you progress through the survey.
2. Receiving Your Survey Kit
Once you receive an email confirming that your grid square choice has been accepted you will be sent a survey kit in the post. This will be sent to the address that you provided to the Bat Conservation Trust when you enrolled. Your survey kit will take around one week to arrive. Before you receive your survey pack, it is a good idea to visit your survey square to plan your survey according to the guidance in section 3. Preparing For Your Survey. Your survey kit will contain:
A case for your AudioMoth
Expense claim form to reclaim expenses of batteries*
A Micro SD card installed in your AudioMoth
Hard-copy of the survey guidelines (these are duplicates of the survey guidance displayed here)
Project Information Sheet and Informed Consent Form
Stamped and addressed return envelope
*Due to EU shipping regulations we are unable to include the 3 AA batteries required for your AudioMoth in your survey kit. Therefore we would be very grateful if you could purchase your own batteries for the survey. Due to the high power demand of ultrasonic recording we recommend Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA or Duracell Alkaline AA batteries. To reclaim the cost of this purchase please complete the expense claim form in your survey pack, and return it to us with the receipt when you send us your SD card and signed consent form.
3. Preparing For Your Survey
- Choose a location within your grid square to deploy your AudioMoth.
- Choose a night to conduct your survey.
- Plan how to deploy your AudioMoth.
- Set-up your AudioMoth.
- Install your AudioMoth in its protective case.
3.1. Choosing Your Deployment Location
Within your 1km grid square you need to choose a location to deploy your AudioMoth for one night. This location should not be within 3 meters of dense vegetation, or flat surfaces such as buildings. It should also be somewhere you feel safe leaving your AudioMoth overnight.
3.2. Choosing Your Survey Night
You should plan to conduct your bat survey on a night of favourable weather conditions within the month of May. This should be when there is low wind and little or no rain. Bats do not like to fly in windy/rainy weather! For the security of your AudioMoth you should also choose a night when you can collect your AudioMoth the following day as close to 05:30 as possible to minimise the risk of theft or vandalism.
3.3. Plan How To Deploy Your AudioMoth
Your AudioMoth should be deployed:
- At a height of at least 2 meters above the ground.
- Oriented vertically and facing forward.
Consider how you will elevate your AudioMoth at least 2 meters above the ground. You could use a pole or tripod.
Alternatively you could use existing structures at your deployment location, such as fence posts, gate posts and signs.
You will need to ensure that the structure you attach it to is the correct height.
Ensure that you do not deploy your AudioMoth close to clutter such as overhanging vegetation or flat surfaces such as buildings.
We are interested in what materials you use to do this so please document this with photographs. You will be asked to share these with us after your survey.
Vertical Orientation and Facing Forward
Your AudioMoth should be oriented in a vertical position with the microphone (white dot) at the top and facing forward. Consider how you will attach your AudioMoth to your method of elevation. You could use sticky tape, cable ties, or Velcro. Ensure that the material you use is strong enough to hold the AudioMoth in a stable vertical position facing forward for the entire night. Avoid covering the AudioMoth’s microphone.
3.4. Setting-Up Your AudioMoth
In order to set-up your AudioMoth to conduct your survey you will use an acoustic ‘chime’ which tells your AudioMoth when to turn on and off, what length of recordings to make, and what the current time is.
To set-up your AudioMoth using the ‘chime’:
1. You must have a device that can emit sound such as a computer with speakers, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Ensure that your device is not set to silent and that any speakers are working.
2. Ensure that batteries are installed in your AudioMoth.
3. Change the switch on your AudioMoth to DEFAULT.
4. The green LED will flash every 2 seconds whilst it waits for you.
5. Push the button below:
You should hear a short chime sound. If you do not please check that your device is not set to silent and the volume is turned up.
6. The green LED will light whilst your AudioMoth listens to the chime. If the configuration was successful the green LED will stay on. See the video below of this in action. You may need to experiment a bit with different distances and volume settings until the green LED stays on, signalling the configuration was successful. You can push the button as often as you like.
7. Once successfully configured, you can switch your AudioMoth to USB/OFF and it will wait in a low power state until you are ready to deploy it. Switching back to DEFAULT at any time will show the same fixed green LED. If you remove the batteries, you will have to repeat the set-up process.
8. When you are ready to deploy move the switch to CUSTOM. Your AudioMoth will check that it has been configured, that the battery level is good, and that it can write to the SD card. If there is a problem, the red LED will flash continuously to say something is wrong.
9. If everything is okay, the green LED will flash every 2 seconds whilst it waits to start recording. Your AudioMoth is set to turn on at 20:30, record during the night and turn off at 05:30. The red LED will light continuously whilst it is recording.
For privacy reasons your AudioMoth will not record sound in the same frequency range as human speech.
For further information and support for the AudioMoth please visit https://www.openacousticdevices.info/.
3.5. Installing Your AudioMoth In Its Protective Case
Once you have configured your AudioMoth using the acoustic ‘chime’, and are ready to deploy the AudioMoth later that day, you will install it in its protective case. This case protects your AudioMoth from damage while it is deployed. To install the AudioMoth in its case:
1. Open the case by unscrewing the four white screws at each corner and removing the front panel of clear plastic with the black neoprene which is attached to it.
2. Ensure that your AudioMoth is set to CUSTOM and has a green flashing light.
3. Place your AudioMoth face up inside the case. Note the correct orientation of the cut-outs for the switch and the SD card, and the position of the microphone.
4. Replace the plastic front panel ensuring that the hole covered by the white dot is sitting on top of the microphone. Replace and tighten the four white screws tightly.
4. Conducting Your Bat Survey
You are now ready to conduct your bat survey. Please travel to your deployment location on your chosen night. Your AudioMoth will ‘wake up’ and begin recording at 20:30. Therefore plan to arrive at 19:30 to give yourself enough time to set up your AudioMoth before it wakes up. Use this checklist to ensure you have deployed your AudioMoth correctly:
- Your deployment location is within your chosen 1km grid square.
- The weather conditions are low wind and low to no rain.
- Your AudioMoth is oriented vertically with the microphone at the top and facing out, and the white dot on the case is not covered by anything.
- Your AudioMoth is elevated at least 2 meters above the ground and is located at least 3 meters facing away from dense vegetation and flat surfaces such as buildings.
- Your AudioMoth’s switch is set to CUSTOM. Before 20:30 your AudioMoth has a green flashing light. At 20:30 your AudioMoth will wake up and begin recording when the green light will stop flashing and will be replaced by a constant red light.
We are interested in what materials you use to deploy your AudioMoth. Please document your survey with photographs and send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Collecting Your AudioMoth
6. Returning Your Survey Data
Using the return envelope in your survey kit, please return your SD card, signed consent form and completed expense reclaim form and receipt for your batteries. If you are unable to complete the online feedback forms, please print out and return your completed survey feedback forms at the same time. Please do this as soon after your survey as possible and no later than Friday 25th May.
The AudioMoth and case are now yours to keep. We advise that you update the firmware on your AudioMoth so that you can use the AudioMoth’s configuration software to tailor the AudioMoth’s settings. Go to https://www.openacousticdevices.info/audiomoth for more information on this.
Now please complete this second short questionnaire about your experience of the British Bat Survey so far. You will be asked to complete one additional questionnaire once you receive our survey results.
7. Receiving Your Survey Results
The software used in this project to identify the species of bats recorded from their calls is still under development. Therefore your results will report the genus of bats recorded but not the species. The data you collect will be used to improve the software used in this project to identify bat calls. See our research for more information about this.
About one month after you return your SD card, you will receive an email with the results of your survey. The results are personalised and shown at a site level resolution. Your results will not be displayed publicly at this resolution. While you await your results, you can learn more about relevant projects and research that support the British Bat Survey.
The overall results of the survey will be reported online later in the year. Here you will be able to explore the results of bat surveys conducted by all the British Bat Survey volunteers. Check back later to find out more about this.
Finally please complete this third and final short questionnaire about your experience of the British Bat Survey overall.