Contents: 1. Why hold a bat walk? 2. Planning your bat walk 3. Publicity 4. At the start of your bat walk 5. What should I include? 6. Tuning your bat detector 7. Finishing your walk 8. Health and Safety 9. Appendices a. Example Risk Assessment b. FAQs
The information in this pack has been taken from The Woodland Trust’s ‘Leading Guided Walks Guidance Pack’, Naturenet’s ‘How to Lead Guided Walks‘ and The bat Conservation Trust website: bats.org.uk
Why lead a bat walk?
Guided bat walks are great for:
Introducing a wide range of interpretation around bats and related ecology. Being able to lead a walk is a useful skill for anyone wishing to promote a site, species or project.
Introducing people to a new site. A guided walk is often the first time many people visit a site – this is your opportunity to show them the wonders that your chosen site offers for bats, other wildlife and people and is our best tool for getting people to return and create an interest in the bats which use the area.
Encouraging people to explore the ecology of an area which they may feel less comfortable to visit on their own, or without prior knowledge and understanding of the site and the species they can find there.
A good walk will encourage your participants to return and share what they have learned with others.
Looking and listening for bats with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic leader has proved to be an increasingly popular event for all ages. Bat walks are a perfect way of giving people the opportunity to see and hear bats in a natural setting, and that first experience has led many to a lifelong interest in bats. To ensure the success and maximise the potential of such events careful planning is essential.
Planning your walk: Location, appropriate date, access requirements, sunset times and assistants should all be considered when planning a bat walk! Parks with a range of habitats including woodland and water will provide a greater opportunity for finding bats. Bats are most active from April-September with peak activity at sunset, remember this may be late in June and July. Will you need special access to the park? Is the park safe at night? Make the route you follow as accessible as possible. Bat walks can, and should, be accessible to all members of your community. Make sure at least one other person will be available to help on the walk. Two of you will generally be ok for a group of 15 people but consider how many might turn up! Prior to the walk Check your route and check the weather! Ensure you have all the appropriate equipment including bat detectors and leaflets. This can also be a good opportunity to promote other activities and the Friends group. You should plan in advance an introductory talk on: who you are, a brief introduction to bats and their conservation, where you will be going and what you hope to see. Cover any health and safety issues.
Publicity… Publicity is crucial. Posters, a sign at the meeting point, and other means are all useful. By far the best method, however, is to link up with (or start) a regular series of walks, such as those often led by the Health Authority or the Ramblers. This can give you a ready-made audience. If you have a series of walks you can produce a leaflet, and distribute it via Tourist Information Centres etc. This tends to be more successful than a number of individually organised walks. Be sure that your publicity, whatever it is, includes at least the following: •
What the event is
Where it is
When (date, time and day of week) it is
How long it lasts
How to get there
Contact number for leader
Whether it is suitable for people with access needs
That children must be accompanied
Any special requirements, eg boots, torch, no dogs…
Press Release •
You may also want to consider a press release, even if you have distributed posters.
There is an art to a good press release, but don’t worry, it’s easy to learn.
Your release must be newsworthy. If your release is not interesting, it’s better not to send it!
Think about what you would like to read or hear on the radio and how you would like it to be said… this is your best starting point.
Get a friend or relative to read your release and make sure it’s correct and exciting!
Double-space your release to make it easy to read.
Make your relaese l00k gooD.
Presentation & selling matter. •
Use an easy to read font. Fun is not always a seller!!!?! :D
There is an art to a good press release, but don’t worry, it’s easy to learn. Your release must be newsworthy. If your release is not interesting, it’s better not to send it! Think about what you would like to read or hear on the radio and how you would like it to be said… this is your best starting point.
Starting a Walk Always turn up at the advertised meeting point despite the worst weather. Run the walk if there is one person or more who wants to go on it - even if that does not include you! Arrive at the meeting point at least 10 minutes beforehand, and leave the meeting point between five and ten minutes after the advertised time. Guided walks aimed at first-time walkers should normally last 1 - 1½ hours, be over easy terrain, not be more than about 2 miles walk. If the walk is aimed at experienced walkers or those with a taste for adventure, the sky is the limit - but be sure that you advertise it with this in mind and ensure that you are at your bat hot spots at the relevant times.
To start off with there are a number of things which should be said, even if many of the group have been out with you before some might not have.
Introduce yourself, giving your name and job title if you have one. Introduce any other members of staff present if they want to be introduced.
Welcome the visitors to the place/project, on behalf of your employer and/or the site owner if you are doing it for them. If the project is sponsored or supported by any organisation they will probably appreciate a mention too.
Explain what the theme of the walk is, if there is one, and how long it will last. Be sure to keep to this time!
Give a warning if there is likely to be any rough going, e.g. if it is muddy. This is especially relevant if you see someone with a pushchair or unsuitable shoes - if they are warned and still come then they cannot complain afterwards.
Before you set off, give a brief description of the route you will take and assure the visitors that they will end up back where they started.
ď‚ˇ If appropriate, point out that the walk is entirely free, and no payment will be expected. Mention your employer/group again at this point for maximum advert factor!
Using the bat detectors Frequencies of British Bats There are 17 species of bat resident in the UK and all can be heard with a bat detector with an echolocation range of 18-120kHz. The table below indicates the frequencies at which you are most likely to receive the stongest signal for any given bat species. However, the exact 'peak' frequency may vary according to the individual bat and the habitat in which it is flying. Learning to differentiate species is a skill which can take some time to learn. Some bats are simple to identify with the aid of a detector because the call is so distinctive, or few or no other bats echolocate at the same frequency. Others are harder to differentiate and other information about the bat such as wing shape, flight patterns or details of the habitat may be helpful. Echolocation Frequency 20-25 kHz 25 kHz 27 kHz 32 kHz 39 kHz 43-46 kHz 45 kHz 45 kHz 45 kHz 45 kHz 45-50 kHz 45-50 kHz 50 kHz 50 kHz 55 kHz 80 kHz 108 kHz
Bat Species Noctule Leisler's Serotine Barbastelle Nathusius's Pipistrelle Alcathoe Common Pipistrelle Whiskered Brandt's Daubenton's Brown Long Eared Grey Long Eared Natterer's Bechstein's Soprano Pipistrelle Greater Horseshoe Lesser Horseshoe
On the walk Ensure everyone gets a go with a detector and understands what they are hearing. As you walk, describe the bats that you see/hear, habitat types, roosting, conservation status etc… Try to make sure everyone can hear you and walk at a suitable pace. Share questions that may be asked.
At the end of this pack are some examples of FAQ. Don’t worry if you get ones you can’t answer! There is a lot we don’t know about bats so the best thing is to offer to get back to them with an answer or refer them to the BCT website. Make a record of the bats you see, this will allow you to put together a picture of bat activity in your park over time.
Finishing a Guided Walk
Make sure everyone is accounted for
Give out leaflets for your group/site/project, and any other relevant leaflets. If you have them and there is no wind, it can be good to spread a range out on a van and let people choose.
Give a little push for any up and coming events and for the next guided walk.
Thank your visitors for coming, and encourage them to come again.
If possible, take contact details (email often easiest) to provide people with more information on bats, future walks, and the work of your group.
Things Not to Say This is particularly relevant if you work for a charity, local authority or other public body. Be very careful to say nothing which you would not be prepared to say in front of anyone, including your employers or the press.
Make no political statements.
Do not give personal information about other members of staff, or yourself ideally.
Tailor your tone to your audience - usually it is a 'family show' and should be kept at that level.
Do not make promises or wild speculation about future developments at the site, unless you state clearly that it is only speculation.
Do not be anything other than polite about other people, such as surrounding landowners, or other official bodies - they may be amongst or in contact with your audience.
Health and Safety All walk organisers should ideally take all possible precautions to guard against accidents on guided walks. In practice this is not always possible. There is some doubt about who is liable in law if someone is injured on a guided walk, and insurance cover does vary so if you have any concerns you should contact your insurers (or treasurer's dept) and ask them about third party liability in such a situation. They should be able to clarify the situation as it applies to you, and reassure you. Usually insurance for a local authority will extend to volunteers leading walks by arrangement with the council, too.
It is certain that if a member of staff takes members of the public into danger, it would be negligent not to warn them, and give the option of not going. Do not normally take guided walks along anything but the most sensible paths. In cases where someone would obviously not be suitable for the route, such as a frail old person, it is quite acceptable to tell that person that the walk would not be suitable for them. If they come, that is their choice.
Always, always avoid wild and ferocious creatures on your walk.
Staff ratios One member of staff is the minimum requirement for a guided walk. When events get popular and involve more than about 15 people, it is time to think about getting more people to help. Here is a table giving suggested numbers of staff and volunteers for public events. It has no legal force and is merely a suggested ratio based on experience. The difference between 'staff' and 'volunteers' will also depend on the sort of project you work for. Sometimes volunteers are the best leaders and know more about the site than paid staff. For these purposes, think of staff as people familiar with the site and its work, and volunteers as people who've just come along to help but don't necessarily know much about the place.
Number of walkers
Members of Staff
1 (or 2)
NB These are minima. More is better.
The Role of Volunteers and other Helpers Volunteers can be very helpful on larger guided walks. Make sure they can be identified, either by uniform or armbands or similar. Point these out at the start of the walk as people who can be asked for help. Duties could include the following, and will obviously depend upon the nature of the location and event: â€˘ marshalling car parking if necessary; â€˘ directing stragglers; â€˘ helping the infirm or those with pushchairs etc over obstacles;
• generally answering questions; • shouting 'speak up!' when necessary; • helping with specific preparations such as 'Ghost Walk' activities.
Sample Risk Assessment
In everyday life all activity involves hazards - but the activity may not be risky. Being hit by a car while crossing the road is a potentially severe hazard - but the probability of it occurring is low hence the risk that you will be harmed in that way is also low. The table lists possible hazards associated with various activities and the risk that these hazards pose to you has been evaluated where Risk = Hazard Severity x Probability of Occurrence (see codes below).
Risk Risks are categorised as follows: 1-6 = Acceptable (Low) (High).
8-10 = Broadly acceptable (Medium)
12 - 16 = Not acceptable
We recommend that you do not carry out any activity in the 'not acceptable' category – e.g. walking along steep banks next to water.
Hazard severity codes 1 = No injury 2 = Minor injury (professional medical attention is not required) 3 = Major injury / permanent disability 4 = Fatality
Probability of occurrence codes 1 = Very improbable 2 = Remote 3 = Could possibly occur at some point in the medium to long term 4 = Probable. The chances are that someone will suffer injury in the short to medium term. 5 = Likely. It is predictable that someone will be injured.
Summary advice: Don’t take any unnecessary risks and if in doubt don’t do it.
Name of group / Position: ___________________________
Torbay Green Spaces is a partnership between Torbay Councilâ€™s Natural Environment Services and Groundwork South. We work to increase activity in our parks and green spaces across Torbay.
For more ways to get involved with Torbay Green Spaces, please visit parklifetorbay.org.uk or contact the Torbay Green Spaces Project Manager, Debs Rylands at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07718 325 659
Paignton zoo pack (image cover)