BatChat

Bats in Churches with Barry Collins

March 03, 2021 Bat Conservation Trust Season 2 Episode 23
BatChat
Bats in Churches with Barry Collins
Show Notes Transcript

S2E23 For the final episode of Series 2 we join Nottinghamshire Bat Group member Barry Collins at a Leicestershire Church where he talks to Steve about the works that were undertaken on the church to restore it whilst retaining the Natterer's bat colony living in the fabric of the building. Barry also discusses the importance of churches in the local community as well as how they're adapting to the 21st century and how he, along with dozens of other bat workers, are working with church communities up and down the country to find a solution to retain bat roosts whilst allowing these buildings at the heart of villages to be regularly used.

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Steve Roe:

This week BatChat comes to you from St. Mary's Church in the village of Freeby, Leicestershire. First of though a shout out to the Essex bat group Twitter account, who told us last week how much they're enjoying the show, so give them a follow on Twitter. Their handle is @Essexbatgroup or hit the link in the show notes. Welcome to BatChat Yes a warm welcome to BatChat's final episode of Series Two. Series Three is in the making. And there's more information on that at the end of the show. Recorded on location in December this episode was made before the current lockdown restrictions came into force. We joined Nottinghamshire bat group member and consultant ecologist Barry Collins at St. Mary's Church in the village of Freeby near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, where extensive restoration work recently took place to the church. And Barry discusses how the works took place whilst retaining the resident roost of bats.

Barry Collins:

I'm Barry Collins, I've been involved with the Nottinghamshire bat group for probably about 20 years now, something along those lines. But ironically, I do an awful lot of work on Leicestershire churches. And there's a band of them that all contain Natterer's bats. And I've been working on those in this area, along with the guys from the Leicestershire and Rutland bat group as well, who do an awful lot of work on churches.

Steve Roe:

And that says a professional job as well as voluntary, isn't it?

Barry Collins:

Yes, but it's nearly all now the nowadays I seem to be so busy that my son does a volunteer work. He does the bat care and the bat rescues and, and I seem to be stuck in writing reports and report but I still keep these churches to myself and my, my special babies. And you could say on this particular church, probably about 60% of the work ended up being voluntary because it became very complicated, because it was a huge project.

Steve Roe:

So I mean, we're sat here we're stood here in the entrance of the church and there's a load of droppings on the floor. The church is fairly empty in terms of the the main aisle where that where the pews would normally be. So What's cracking off here we've got loads of droppings everywhere. Everything's covered up. What's what's happened.

Barry Collins:

This is now a disused church. And it was it was an active church for many years. I think it finished about 10 years ago, it closed because it was so unsafe. And if you look at the far pillar over there on the north aisle, it's such a weird angle. It literally is. It's amazing. It's standing up and the church subsided to such an extent that Windows started falling out, bits of stonework started falling out and it became unsafe. In fact, if you stand there and look at the chancel arch, it's just not right. You can see either you've been drinking or the building's not right. And it's not it's not the former. So they stuck. They abandoned it at that point, and they couldn't raise the funding to fix it. Now, weirdly enough, all of this damage was caused by bad drainage over years and years and years, and it's ended up with the ground settling and this problem occurring. So they ended up closing the church. And that's where the church's Conservation Trust came in with English heritage. And they were really proactive took the church on and when you look at it today, it's marvellous it looks in such good condition. And it was dire when I first came in here. There was sections of stained glass windows on the floor where they were trying to whenever it bit fell out. They were trying to put it together on the floor. There was droppings everywhere. So yeah, it was amazing, really.

Steve Roe:

It's now been preserved like you say So shall we have a walk around and work out where these bats have been loosened John, say, where they were resting and what you've done to sort of mitigate,

Barry Collins:

I guess, I think, I mean, for me, a lot of the groundwork for me, luckily was done by the Leicestershire and Rutland bat group and Jenny Harris and Neil Hughes, in particular did a lot of work on this church. They'd already with a few of the members from the group identified a lot of the access points into the church but hadn't had much access inside because it's difficult to get a key to get in because it's such a remote village, I think the keyholders a farmer, somewhere down the village. But when we came in, what we quickly established is what you tend to find a lot in these lessons to churches is that the bats are roosting in the south aisle and the roost in in a gap where the south aisle joins on to the nave and in particular, behind the heavy timber boards that you can see the main supporting beam that you see running along the length there when you go up behind that feature, which you might then see with a torch in a minute that whilst it's lovely and pointed below when makes a bullet hollow stonework if you stand back against that wall, I can show you on this particular one whilst keeping my social distance. So you can kind of see that the stone works not pointed, and there's great big gaps in it great big holes in it. And so the bats are roosting in those holes as well as behind the timber. And the roof frames really simple and basic on on this particular chair, sometimes you get them as a sandwich where there's one layer on top of another, which is largely done to reduce noise. But all this is is these rafters, these sarkin planks across there's like a horse airtight material like a membrane, and then the leads sat flat on top. So there's no roosting potential on the underside of the roof. It's all in those gaps there. And where those main beams join into the, into the wall, and they roost in three locations. On the on this on the south aisle,

Steve Roe:

the mitigation, what you've been doing hasn't been because there's a conflict between pressures in this case, it's just because the building needed repairing stop it from falling down then yes.

Barry Collins:

Yeah, this was before the Baptist churches project started. This was in we've been working on it originally, we got it all ready to go in 2008. And they lost the funding stream. They were absolutely devastated. Because it was in a really bad state at that point. And they gave up the church and the church Conservation Trust, took it on 2014 we got ready to go with it. And we were ready for the September to hit it. And then there were so many delays on the funding. This work actually started in here in March. And there's 500,000 pounds worth of work in here. At a time when the bats were here having their babies, so to say it was nervous breakdown material. And what that work involved Steve was the whole of the nave was filled with bookcase scaffold. So you imagine you've got like scaffold from floor to base, whilst the that's the presence the bats had moved in at this point, they come early. They don't don't comply with a major September, you know, and I knew that the bats could cope with the birdcage scaffold because we put some up in November, down the road at Coast and when that was done, and the bats were still there, in fact that were there on Christmas day in the maternity colony in the same maternity roost, and I spent ages fixing plastic to the scaffold, to try stop the backs hitting it. And then I watched him one night and they just did used to cheat as if it wasn't their work their way through it as you'd expect for wouldn't anyone I guess, work their way through to their access point and left. So I was confident that they would do that here. The only thing I was worried about was the noise of the scaffolding. So we advised them that if they made a noise, they would have stopped working go away or basically our base what it basically said was if a bat was disturbed and about started flying, they had to pack up for the day. And that meant they would lose money. So they put it up really quietly.

Steve Roe:

Yeah. So I mean, there's quite a lot of droppings even though the work has been done what are the species here and and what sort of numbers

Unknown:

Sorry, yeah it's Natterer's, it's a Natterer's maternity roost and there is a few pipistrelles, common pipistrelles. But it varies on numbers, somewhere around sort of 35 to 70. Last year, there was only 40 Odd bats in here. 2018 was 70. And as I said I monitor it every year for the NBMP. So to add to the stress of this, keeping the backs because the bats roost here then they fly through the nave and pointing now which is no use. So they live through the south through the nave and out window in the chancel where there was a missing window. That's one of the points. The others are quite simple ones in the south aisle. So we want to keep those open. But once we got over that stress that they were coping with the scaffolding being here, and the work on the rest of the structure. The problem then was was the fact that bats didn't come back. So they arrived for the first NBMP survey. And they came into the church because the church was open and it was full of scaffolding and sheets and and and they went outside to do the immersion and there wasn't a single bat. So at that point, luckily, I wasn't here that the bat group were going to lynch me undoubtedly. So what we started doing was superstitiously popping over a few days after that just to double check because we couldn't figure out why they hadn't gone back. And then when they actually came back. There was 70 odd in here and to pay for the biggest years whilst the work was ongoing. And the work was, you know, really invasive in a lot of ways because the walls have to be pinned together.

Steve Roe:

So I mean, in terms of the work that's been done, have any of the actual root sites themselves being worked on if they've been left alone, whilst the scuffling was up

Barry Collins:

the day roosting areas or roof places where individual bats are roosting were potentially impacted. Now, one of the things that had to be done here was there were several ways that we're going to deal with it and what they did in the end When was they drilled with a diamond drill right through from one end of the church wall to the other. Pump these, these resin and tie bars in the act as anchors and hold the thing together so it actually knitted together. And in the odd place, you can see a little bit of what of light mortar where they were drilled out. There was a risk, in particular when I was going to start in the autumn, which I wanted to do to avoid the maternity colony of 18 hibernating bats, because these drills are really quiet, and there's hardly any vibration. And it's not what you imagined at all. You imagine that it's going to be a hammer drill going and bats flying everywhere and babies falling out. And it was incredible to watch how quiet it was. But fortunately, there are plenty of time to get out of the way because there were there were, they were active at that time. So we didn't have any dead bats at all found. And most of it was in the sort of areas, but we categorise the church into features. So we took the specification, and we had a group list of work in red that they couldn't do whilst the colony was here. And all of that was in this South aisle, including standing on the roof above where they roost because they could potentially go underneath where the lead meets this meets the nave, it often folds up and there's a little V underneath that's lovely and warm, and they get into that little space, and they could kill them. We're treading on them when they're putting scaffolding. So we would we banned all work in this area, there was no tea room inside, there was no access apart from to work, the door had to be kept closed to try and maintain the the temperatures to a stable level. And then we had other areas that they did work on. But because of the late start a lot of the work that I didn't want to do while the bats were here, such as taking the windows out and managing it and repairing all the windows, such as putting the birdcage scaffolding we had to do in the end because the project was six months late starting. And they were at risk of losing the when I told them that they were gonna have to wait till October. That was quite an interesting email chain. So we just went you know, I think we can work with this and, and the bats could work with it. And they have they have worked with.

Steve Roe:

So an awful lot of work and a lot of money and delays to keep the bats here. Is it worth it?

Barry Collins:

I think so. Because in this part of Leicestershire is we don't really find these mattress backs in buildings, they're all in these churches. And potentially maybe once upon a time they were in the barns, but all the barns are lovely houses. Now, you know, most of the barns have got no agricultural function. And I'm currently working on one for example, up in northeast Yorkshire and the beautiful barn there, but they can't fit tractors in them anymore. So they're knocking it down. You know, and, and these are the places where these animals would have lived. And they've been forced, I guess, to be restricted to places like these churches. I mean, I suspect, Steve, that they were roosting in these churches in this church from the soon after it was built, you know, and they've been here ever since. And the mess that you see now is because it's generated over a whole season. But normally, you know, when the churches were really active, when the villages were busy, full of farm labourers, the churches would have been used two or three times away, they'd have been loads of cleaners, loads of volunteers, the churches would have been full of people. So the bats have really been living in this church since it was built. And to exclude them from areas is something I really would struggle with. And I really do struggle with that mentally with the other work that I've been doing. On the backs and churches project, you know that the risk we take of losing the colony from here? Yes, they might move off to a house down the road, but they're not safe when they're in a house because of the household rules, at the moment that no laws have been passed for churches, and therefore they're protected while they're in these places. And I'd kinda like to keep them in there.

Steve Roe:

Something you mentioned the pressures that bats are getting from barn conversions and other agricultural building conversions. Do you think that there should be something put into the planning system, so the those buildings have to have domestication built in when they do get converted?

Barry Collins:

It's interesting one that I have recently been to a village in Oxfordshire, where they, even if they've got bats or not, they have to put boxes into this structure, actually, into the structure. And I was quite impressed with that. I kinda like to think that we would do that. I mean, I don't know your experience, but ours is, is that we can build these amazing bat houses and they don't always work in larger they don't work, but I think it's because they've got somewhere else. And sooner or later when they got nowhere else. Those features have got to be useful. We've built too many really good bat houses in really good locations on spots where they forage and we filled them with their droppings. Isn't painted the front with a with a mixture of their droppings and urine and all this sort of stuff in it and it hasn't worked. And I think it's because they've got somewhere else at the moment. So I think we do need to sort of build long term for them. But agriculture, that's a difficult one, because modern agricultural sheds are huge. You know, they're huge steel structures, we're never going to get them to build wooden and stone structures like this one. So let's hope we can keep them in the churches and reduce the impact of them to something that's manageable, is what I would like to the position I would like to get to with the, with the other work we're doing on bass in churches,

Steve Roe:

we mentioned the droppings there, and you know, people back in the day would have had loads of cleaning work to keep these clean. What's your experience with other churches which, which have got active parishioners in and the conflict there between the mess that bats make, or the noise the past make, and the prisoners themselves in the use of a church

Unknown:

is very variable. You know, it's rarely positive, I'm sad to say, but it is variable. And sometimes it is positive. I mean, Tattershall church, where we're working as well, at the moment, you couldn't have a more positive impact. And the back was so much work. So it's not all. They don't love everything about the bats, but they love having the bats. They just don't love them to clean up after them. And, and the attention that they're getting through the bats and churches project is fantastic and is working. You know, so a lot of the churches that go to there's a dwindling, congregation, they're getting older, they're getting frailer. I mean, when you came in this church earlier, I was sweeping some of these droppings, well, some people that this has struggled for them to sweep the church this size. And the my, you know, when you take some of the churches around this neck of the woods, they might have a congregation of 10 people, you know, it's always down to the same person to sweep them up so they can get upset about it. And they get upset about it when we put all the constraints in, you know, like when we say when we got to have a licence, and it's going to take two months for us to get your licence. And it's going to cost twice as much as what it costs us to survey to get that licence. It does bother them. And I've had people actually pull out of the funding from the village and they make a point to tell me who's pulled out the funding because of he's not going to spend the money on the bat. But when you work on and positively like at Coast in church, you can get really positive results or coast and Tattershall are opposites. And it varies on the people, Steve, you know, you can there's, there's one church up the road that I should not say where it is, but it's not very far away, where they've been complaining about a roost of about 15 pipistrelles for the years and the mess that they make. And then 10 miles away, there's another church, it's got about 30 long-eared's bats in, with at least 10 times the mass and the lovely old fella who looks after it. I went did a survey there. And he said to me 'phew' he says, well, at least we haven't got the problem they've got up there! So a lot of it is as well as the perception of the people, you know, some of the people really are anti bats. And it's we've got to do everything we can to try to get them to live with the bats and like the bats, because legislation isn't going to do it.

Steve Roe:

So what are those sorts of things that you doing to get them onside and and keep that out? So I guess, I think,

Barry Collins:

identifying when you get positive people and working with those people, and that's what we're doing it coasting at the moment. So at the moment, that coast and what we're doing, we've got a very similar problem here, as we've got here, with droppings all falling down on the in the south bar, which is ironically where the door always is. And the font always is. So when you baptise your baby, you've got droppings floating in the water, you know, don't go down too well. So and what we're doing there is they've got so tired of cleaning up this mess, they used to put sheets down to catch all the droppings but they've got so well they can't pick the sheets, because they've got so many droppings on them. And when they pick them up, or the droppings spill over the sides. So we're going to put catch trays or put the roof mesh ones this year temporary ones on on a pulley system. And we're going to put them up about we're going to judge it by what how the bats land and go into the roost, how high we have them. And we're going to put those in the key Rouge locations all the way down the aisle and then close off the other bits. So all the droppings go into a basket. And then we can empty them once a year. And that's the plan. Now, one of the trade offs from that is we've got to do a training course for the back group in there because they want to get some community use out of the church got that they've only they've got a small congregation. So we've got to commit to that. And I think the bats in churches, training for volunteer bat wardens will be in that church actually inside that church with that maternity colony that lives through an entire winter of builders. So yeah,

Steve Roe:

and I mean Natterer's are here and you've mentioned long-eared's and pipistrelles. What othe species of bats could use churches then?

Unknown:

Well, the variety in this neck of the way So I mean, I think all species of bats will use churches, I've never found nachos in churches, but I know people who've had them in churches. And I think it can get variable where you are in the country. So for example, in this neck of the woods, we rarely get bats in the towers, sometimes we get them in the silence in room between the bowels and, and the ringers, you know, they often they'll put the clock winding mechanism in that room, whereas in Essex, there are commonly found, I understand in in church towers, so it's quite variable. But in this area, apart from the huge amount of natural roots that there are in these churches, and research suggests that they're not connected because there's one down the road that's only three miles down the road, you'd assume that these bats and those bats interact at some point. But the research that was done under the bass in churches contract originally suggests that they're not they don't mix, they're not actually a same colony. I mean, obviously, the males will, will move about, but we've got up the road, we've got a large roost of Daubenton's about and that's in a very active church, and they do cause a lot of problems. There's about 300 Daubenton's up there. Not far from now we've got a couple of roosts with long-eared, maternity roussin the soprano roosts are always a bit of a killer in the churches because they're a bit smelly as a bat as you know, and they roost in big numbers so you get even more droppings and and they also roost in isolated localised areas. So you tend to get big aggregations. And whereas these are roosting in three or four places along here,

Steve Roe:

when you say big numbers, like what's the what's a large render of a rooster?

Unknown:

Well, Tattershall's got 800-odd bats in it, it's 800 pipistrelles and then it's got about 200 Daubenton's up to 200. I think I might have it as 800 in total. But these Natterer's roosts are all around somewhere between 30 to 80. In this area, the pipistrelle roots. There's no massive ones in my group of churches, but there's a big one that Matt Cook's working with on the other side of Leicestershire, that's, I think that's a good couple of 100. That's in. I mean, obviously, the roosts can get a huge I mean, I've worked on properties with with 400 sopranos. So, you know, and they will quite difficult to deal with because of the smell issues. But But yeah, so all of the species of bats that you would find in this area, I don't think we've found ourselves in a church yet. But all of this Yeah, he aquifer definitely the moving, moving with global warming, I'm sure of it. But all of the backs you would kind of find in this area apart from your woodland species, and you would find in churches, but only two species that have been found in this church here.

Steve Roe:

And how's it all tying in with the bats and churches project then the that joint conservation project between Bat Conservation Trust Church of England and CCT and all those stakeholders? How many churches are involved in that project? Are you doing any work? How's that project going?

Barry Collins:

Yeah, well, that's, that's really moved on. And there's some really innovative stuff going on in that area. And you'd have to speak to some of those guys to get the detail on it. But there's, there's one of the churches in Warwick show where the put in an attic spacing in a church? Well, you know, I remember we had a big meeting about Stanford on Avon church with English nature, they tried to get some work going some mitigation going 1520 years ago. And at that point, we weren't even allowed to put shrouds over monuments, you know, and now we're moving forward, but attic spaces in places and things like that. I think that these organisations are now starting to work on this project in a really positive way. You've got to bear in mind, we love bats. So as soon as somebody does something that is detrimental to the bat, we don't like those people. So And likewise, people love historic buildings. And when our bats poo all over them, they don't like bats, and they don't like the people that love bats. So we've all got to sit around a table and come out with objectives that satisfy everybody. So for example, it's hard to show. The first year is project has all been spent on reducing the droppings impact on people areas, places where people sit to eat, and eat and drink cups of tea, the kitchen areas where the largest sorts of people, congregation areas are now clear of bats. They're roosting elsewhere in the church. But the next big problem is in the north transit, which is where all the historic issues are, well, it's about work and you kind of say, well just put it, put a sheet over and they'll be fine. But of course, as far as the historic people are concerned, that's a priority. So that's what we're working on this year. And that's Atlas Project stone. It's brought people together where we were all those years at Stanford on Avon. We were at loggerheads with each other. In fact, I couldn't see a solution while I was stood down the church, apart from everybody put a pair of boxing gloves on and start fighting really. Yeah, so yeah, it's really To be positive now. And there's a load of churches with a load of different options going in a lot of people trying things as well that you wouldn't consider that somebody has come up with, they've had an idea and thought, You know what, I'm going to try something in this area and, and it's getting the go ahead and they're doing it. So, yeah, fingers crossed, we find the solutions. Hopefully, not too many colonies will be badly impacted by those solutions, because undoubtedly, some of these ideas we try will result in these banks leaving this area and going somewhere else. Now, if it's someone like to have to show to say to the people, the banks don't like the fact that we've moved them out of the kitchen area, we'd like to put them back again, is going to be very difficult in a few years time. So fortunately, there we've managed to come to a solution that the bats are happy with, and that we're happy with.

Steve Roe:

One thing I've noticed, in my line of work, I've noticed that when we do get church projects, and we're going to do the surveys, it's usually around making churches more of a community building, you know, they're not just there for worship, they're there for school nursery groups, or they want to put in kitchens and tea rooms. So have you found the same sort of thing?

Barry Collins:

Yeah. And they're very much seem to be, they seem to very proactive churches that are working in that way, as well. And I guess a lot of the ones that are in the backs in churches project are as well, because you had to be proactive and put your name forward and push to get yourself in, and on the lists that they're on. And you're right, we've been to some great churches like this one, for example, you know, all the pews have gone, it's a big open space that can have events in here. You know, like the churches Conservation Trust, lets the community and community have to use it for a set number of nights or days a year, including for worship. So it is the way forward I think, to make them into a community hub. But in doing that, we've also got to try and manage the bat situation, you know, and that does mean that we have to some way, change the structures. Good because ultimately, Steve, what we've done here is when you look above you, we've gone out there into the forests, and we've cooked down all the bad zones, and we've played them up, we bought them in here, and we've still come in here. And lo and behold, the bats have moved back in here, because this is their homes. So we're trying to do something so they can live together. Rarely.

Steve Roe:

And how did you get so heavily involved with churches,

Unknown:

I kind of stumbled into it. I started doing some churches. But what happened was I started doing some doctoral research into the success of mitigation. And at the time, I went, I went to DEFRA and I was going to look at the success of EPS licence mitigation, but at the time we crunched and crashed into data protection laws. And at that time, just as I was about to launch deafer said, now you can't have access to any records, nothing. So I've got no roosts. I've got nothing. So of course in those days, the good old guys English nature were there. We didn't always call them good guys in those days. But now there were saints. And they were there. And they said, Yeah, of course you can have access to our roofs records. And that meant churches. So I ended up with properties that were being reroofed properties that were being timber treated and churches. So I ended up working on about across the country, probably about 60 different churches, and looking at the effect of reroofing and timber treatment and whether it had affected the backs. And and I found that there was there was no significant impact, there was localised impacts at the back groups would tell you about. But long term, there was no significant impact from all these quite serious bits of work. The things that were obviously excluded from that are things like exclusion where somebody deliberately blocked them out. Yeah. And then from that, I kind of ended up sort of getting interested and a disk presentations on it. So then the last issue and rock them back group pushed for me to get involved in one of their churches, which one it was now. I think it might have been Gopi marvelled. And then from there, the architects then said, Well, this guy's working with, you know, and went on and on and on. So I'm pleased to say that from that I started to get a lot of churches to work on and I've worked on, I don't know, probably well over 100 churches in my time now. But that's nothing comparison. Some of the pioneers of church conservation work like in Essex, the Gigondas in Essex, I think they've done squat 400 churches and, and Phillip Parker over in the East of England, I think he lives in a church, or churches, I think he's well over double what I've looked at, but But yeah, I'd looked at a lot of churches, I've seen a lot of risks. The use of knives and technology that I blogged up with the people when it first came out, in really crude formats has allowed me to see what the banks are doing inside these churches and develop these mitigation schemes. Whereas all bar, one church in my own county that's monitored by my own back group, I've been successful, but my own my own Bramcote towers roost Unfortunately, I've lost the roost somehow and I don't quite know how with To the rest of them, yeah, they've done wrong.

Steve Roe:

And then they're quite difficult survey you mentioned night vision kit, they're one of the things that quite a lot of people saying bankruptcies, churches require a bit of knowledge about UK, it's not just one of those where you rock up outside and candidates come out a bit more complicated than that, I think

Barry Collins:

I think the problem is, is the fact that they you need to go to see, and, and that's going to be something that will come. But really simple structures rarely, people do get quite worried about them. And the very simple structures, they're just like big pieces of Lego or stuck together. You know, they're not complicated, but the way that the bats use them can be so for example, in this church, you've got a rooster exit out of a window where a glass pane fell out in the chancel. That summer they found and they use now where I fitted these in other churches, they won't use them. But it which is where they go out of a settlement crack in the the west end of the South aisle, and they go out over the top of this world that we're standing leaning against on the on the south or the south, or the go out of the top out the rafter ends. Now there's sort of a group of features that blacks tend to use to get in and out of churches. Typically, there's always going to be a percentage who do something really bizarre. So if I wrote a book about it, somebody will criticise me because I haven't mentioned the fact that they go into gutter spout and Clara crawl along underneath the like gutter which I have happens down the road of coasting. They go about a metre, but there is quite simple, but the problem is you have to go to see them. And like the naturals, they'll start to come out quite soon after pipistrelles, you know, we used to think you have to hang around for two hours for them to come out. And if you wait for two hours, or you'll get cold outside this church, but by the time they have come out, Steve, it's dark, and you can't see them coming out the windows, because you can't see them against the and it tends to make people think that it's difficult to serve a four plus, nobody wants to stand on that north corner of the church. Because nothing's happened if there's possibly not even anything coming past you. Everybody wants to stand on this south side of the church where the backs are pouring out. So you've kinda you have to have people who are prepared to stand and look in the in the cruddy bits. But I think the one thing that's come out of the box in churches collaboration, is the fact that we've, under the new class licence for boxing churches, you have to have somebody inside with with monitoring the with vision equipment. And I think in due course, it'll be thermal imaging. But at the moment is it's not it's infrared. And with that, we can see what's happening. You know, we can see who's going where and what's happening.

Steve Roe:

So if there are listeners that they're thinking, Oh, I've got a church down the road from me, I want to go and see if there's bats in there, what's the best plan of action for them, and where, you know, in a minute, we can have a look around and you can point out where bats might be once they've got access, what's the what's the best plan of action for them

Barry Collins:

that the key thing to do is, is to get in touch with the church and find out who the church Warden is, and see if you can get access into the church because so many of them are locked. Now you turn up at the door and you will rattle the door and, and you can't get him. So if you can't get in, you can't really get an idea of what's happening. So once you've had a word with him, you need find out when the church is cleaned, because the droppings are the evidence. If there's a maternity of Colony of bats in a building, and you leave that building empty for three years, you don't need to do an emergent survey, you can tell there's a maternity colony in that church that building or not. And it's likewise with the church just in a period of five days, because there's nothing protecting the droppings falling out of that roof onto that floor. That gives you the chance to get in and see if there's a lot of droppings, you'll even find small numbers of droppings. And what I tend to do is I come into church and I go up to the top corner, and I just work my way down systematically, I use the beam of my torch, and I just scan the south aisle, then I scan the North aisle, then I scan the the nave. And then I scan the Chancellor and I tend to leave the best back bit of that church to lowest otherwise you'll rush the rest and to get to see the bit where all the bad things are gonna be. And just work your way through it systematically you'll find out where the Roustan but the critical thing you churches is out to get in and out. Now, like us, they often use the door. If they don't use the door, then then you have stopped working it down. And that's where back groups themselves can come in, because they can have people stood all around the church and now tag where the backs are coming out when you are your own. You know, we used to serve on our own as well, you know, years ago, we serve our buildings on you when you're on your own, it's quite hard to find where they're coming in and out.

Steve Roe:

So should we have a look around and you can see where the droppings are in areas where there will be in other churches.

Unknown:

So on this this one here on this particular in this island, the South aisle, we've got bats roosting in those holes in the stonework up at the top that we looked at earlier. So this is the main roost area we get some pipistrelles roosting upon to this, the edge and rafter the often routes between the rafter and the walls on an anywhere really Whether there's a joint where a piece of timber meets a piece of stone, or two pieces of stone meet together, there's a joint and it's like a combat box really, in in a large scale. So you often get a pipistrelle up here. And there may even be one up here now, because there's, there's some droppings although naturals drop as well I look at it, but they tend to roost up this gap here. I don't see any here at the moment, Steve. surprised how few dead bats around here as well considering there's a maternity roost in here. This end is where is where the main entrance the emergence points are. But what what I was doing when I come in the church as well is look at the back of the door and the back of the door. I'll tell you, if there's any batteries in the doors before you even shut it. We've seen them go in and out through where the lock mechanism goes, because there's a gap. And I've even heard of him going through these huge key stories and going underneath the door as well which I've never seen that but I found it doesn't surprise me the next night. This is a centre here that you can see with all these droppings. There's a roost area above here, but in this corner, there's a big settlement crack that was left because it was the main access point. And they go in and out of this area here as well. And then when you come into the nave on this church, there was there wasn't really a lot in this church in the name. As I said earlier, when I was sweeping up there was a large deposition. Over on this main roof beam on the nave here below it. There was a large deposition of droppings there suggesting there was some roost in there and I don't really remember that when I were doing work. But these was huge cracks in the chancel arch in the wall, you know the nave there above the chancel arch that were all pinned together. They were definitely rooted in those. The pipistrelles were what we had a we monitor these cameras night vision cameras from the birdcage scaffold that was right in the top there. So that again junctions you've got a junction of the roof covering with the nave Gable, and where it meets the tower or is common places in the corners where they where they'll roost. And, of course the rafter ends where the rafters go out over the building. They'll they'll focus on those as well. These these particular areas these will go straight out. I often wonder sometimes the hardest place to find that's when they come in in our churches. Churches have got calculated walls or parapet walls, you know where there's like a stone edge on top of the roof going all the way around like a castle house. And they're the ones where they really find the innovative ways of getting into the church.

Steve Roe:

I've just done one of those and I had pipistrelles re-entering and they landed on the lead gutter and then we're crawling through the gutter bits and then under the lead that way

Unknown:

Well that, I've only ever seen that twice. And the first time I thought they were roosting I couldn't figure out how they're getting in. And now years ago that was and as only when I had a maternity roost going in now of them, I realised what you've seen is so it's gotta be, clearly more common than than what you think that? Well. Yeah, the lead guttering. That's that's above the nave here that sits in in a stone trough effectively on a parapet wall. And what they do is they line it with timber, and then they put the lead in and over time damp gets in there and the timber rocks and you get a gap. So then the bat goes in through the bottom of the or the top of the spout comes out and they crawl under that lead form. And to the first as soon as they find a gap that comes into the church through the rafter ends. And that's how they get into coasting down there and they can travel. So to me to one of the cleverest guys, I want to talking about bats and the way they use us who says that, you know, basically, if they're if they use a feature, they will always use that feature. And that was shown on that church because instead of having to crawl two metres along the top of the wall and come out through a gap in a rafter, I made a hole straight through from the spout, because I thought it would be easy. I left the original one and I made a new one. And they didn't use the new one for about two years. They walked straight past day, which is bizarre because they would be able to smell everybody in the church. And that's where you need to the knowledge that you've just mentioned. Otherwise you on the church like coasting you will block all the bugs out there wouldn't be any in there because there's no other accesses.

Steve Roe:

And then looking towards this eastern end are the roosts similar to what we've just looked at in the Navy, it's all those joints where the wall meets the the wooden rafters.

Unknown:

Yeah, that's right. It's always where there's a joint. And sometimes of course, you've got Mortice joints in these timbers. And sometimes you don't even see those mortice joints, you know, that can be above so as much as that you've said on the wall where it's all very decorative where it can be seen above where it can be seen it can be quite rough. And there can be some big holes going in some big mortise mortises that they can get into almost like a big line of backs in a tube, like a tube of Smarties or something like that. You know, that's all lined up down an alley. decide who's getting out. The other thing they did here that you can see is the old fashioned the old fashioned thing which is the tie beams that put these tie beams across in order to cold shoot to go, when you look at, it's quite amazing when you think what they did. And when you look at that pillar there, I mean, the angle of it's incredible, isn't it? It's amazing, the church didn't fall over.

Steve Roe:

And we're looking at it and say it's not straight as an understatement. It's got a several degree lienau

Barry Collins:

I couldn't wave on. I'm not good at maths, but But yeah, I wouldn't. If it was my house, if I was buying a house, I might not buy this one. But, and this is all pinned together now with invisible stitching effectively.

Steve Roe:

And do you think the future of that's in churches is looking better than it was? Or if there's a lot of work to do?

Barry Collins:

I think it's going to be a difficult I think the the issue with churches is a difficult one, Steve, because they have to have a function in a community in order to survive. I think in a lot of the community about in these these villages, they should be church taxes. You know, I live in a village, I'm lucky enough to live on the outskirts of the village and we've got a local church, and I'd be quite happy to pay some taxes towards keeping that church. I'm not a regular churchgoer. But, you know, I want my kids to get married there, and I kind of hope they'll dig a hole and put me in it one day, not too soon. But unlike a lot of people do, you know, and so I think we need to keep them for that function, you know, the community side of, of the churches is really important. And I think that's what that's also, you know, the religious function gives it gives so much kindness and caring to the community to be part of a church. But yeah, so I What's the future, I hope that this legislation doesn't get put through, where they can get screwed backs from churches, I, I can't see how it will. But I can also see in this world that those sorts of things could could just be taken a decision could be taken, and that would be devastating for banks, I think the natural is bats in this region, I don't know what that would do to the population. So we have to find ways of bats and people living together. And but we have to go out of our way and you know, praise the Lord for the lottery funding. And the churches Conservation Trust really project managing it, because otherwise, you know, this church wouldn't be here, somebody would have bought this for development. This would have been a house like this, there's another one in this ship. Because it would have gone from nothing in the end. Who wants to build in this literally falling down? You know, it's on the risk register as well. As soon as you buy it, you you've got the council giving you instructions as to what you've got to spend on it. It's great to see it now. Steve, you know, when you saw it then and you you think that there was 500,000 pounds worth of work, and they're just to keep this structure. There's nothing in there. There's no fancy kitchens or anything like that. It's just the structure that was spent on 500,000 pounds worth of work. Is it worth it? I kinda think so.

Steve Roe:

Great stuff. Barry Collins. Thank you very much.

Barry Collins:

Thank you.

Steve Roe:

Barry Collins from Nottinghamshire bat group there and my thanks to Barry for taking time out of his day to speak with me. Are you willing to explore local church this summer for evidence of bats? If so, the bats in churches project mentioned there by Barry needs you. You can help them to better understand how bats are using churches across England. By taking part in one of their two surveys, church by detectives and the National bats in churches study. You can take part in the surveys whether this is your 100th Bat survey or your first just head to their website to find out how to get involved. That's in churches.org.uk. And as always, the link is in the show notes. We really hope you've enjoyed the Bat Conservation stories being told in this podcast bats a magical but misunderstood mammals. And here at the Bat Conservation Trust, we have a vision of a world rich in wildlife where bats and people thrive together. We know that conservation action to protect and conserve bats is having a positive impact on bat populations in the UK, we will not be able to continue our work to protect bats and their habitats without your contribution. So if you can please donate, we need your support now more than ever, to donate, please head to the link at the bottom of the show notes. Thank you. And that's it for series two. But we're delighted to say that series three will be coming to you later in the year. It's looking rather promising that the coming summer may be something that we're more used to. So we hope you all have a fantastic time getting out there and enjoy seeing bats in the night sky. We're looking for participants to share the link about work taking place up and down the country with the podcast. So if you're working on a great pet project, or have a story about the bats in your area to share, drop us an email to the address in the show notes. If you're able please do leave a review of BatChat in your podcast app reviews help other people to discover the podcast. With BatChat. We're reaching out to lovers of bats all over the world. So if you know someone who's never listened to a podcast before, we'd love it if you could show them how to listen and how to find BatChat. If you can share this episode on social media with your friends and followers, our hashtag is BatChat. BatChat is an original podcast from the Bat Conservation Trust. Our theme music is by Raphael Krux. And our artwork was designed by Rachael Hudson. The series producer and editor was me Steve Roe. And I'd like to say thanks to the communications team at BCT Joe Nunez-Mino and Andreia Correia da Costa for their fabulous work and support and promoting this on social media and link into the episodes on the BCT website. And of course a huge thanks to you guys, our listeners for your ongoing support of the show.