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Friday, 26 March 2021

The bat-worker’s library Part 1 - The essentials

I was recently asked to recommend some books on bats for someone starting out on their bat-working career. It created an interesting conundrum: you can only buy so many books at a time (though I confess I’m a massive bibliophile and that doesn’t apply to me), so should I focus on the books which fascinate and inspire, or on the ones which contain essential information? Tricky. So, I’ve decided to do both.

Here is my essential library of bat-worker books: the ten essential books that I hope somebody would point me towards if I were starting off with bats and intending to take it seriously. I’ll write another post soon, with my list of books that get me off the couch and fired up to look for bats.

The bat-worker’s manual (3rd edition) Mitchell-Jones & McLeish 2004

If bats were cars, this would be the book you find in the glove-box, to tell you how to make all the gadgets work. Although due an update, it is still an excellent and fairly comprehensive manual, filled with practical reference information essential for anyone involved in bat conservation. If you're working towards your bat license, this is your bed-time reading. If budget is an issue you can download it free of charge from the JNCC website.

Bat surveys for professional ecologists good practice guidelines (3rd edition) Collins, 2016

I'm not a huge fan of how the content of this book is presented, but for anyone who works or hopes to work with bats in ecological consultancy it is an essential reference for the appropriate methods to carry out effective and compliant surveys. If only more people would recognise that it contains guidelines and not rules! Each edition has improved and built on the success of the previous one and I'm looking forward to seeing how the 2022 4th edition turns out.

Bats of Britain and Europe Dietz & Kiefer, 2018

This chunky paperback has a permanent place in my bat handling bag. All the identification info. you could possibly need, in a portbale format, including the best key to bats I've ever come across. If you're handling bats at all, this is an essential field guide.

Bats of Britain, Europe and north-west Africa Dietz, von Helverson & Nill, 2007

A massive hardback with comprehensive information on bat species. I tend to think of this as the expanded version of 'Bats of Britain and Europe.' Think Baby Stace and Scary Stace, if you know your botany field guides! If I could only have one bat book, this is the one I would choose.

Bat roosts in trees Andrews, 2018

Henry Andrews was in my MSc group and even then it was obvious he wasn't going to let go of this subject until he'd worried it to death, like an angry terrier. Henry is responsible for a massive step-change in our understanding of tree-roosting bats and their roosts. It's a very useable field guide to tree roosts and how to survey for them.

British bat calls Russ, 2019

John Russ' book was a long time coming, but worth the wait. Bat call analysis is a core skill for anyone surveying for bats and John's book is the central guide to the characteristics of the calls of each species. It has gaps and weaknesses, but they are down to gaps in research, rather than to Jon. I understand he may be working on a new version. Bring it on.

Social calls of the bats of Britain and Ireland Middleton, Froud and French, 2014

When Neil Middleton and I collaborated on a bat reserach project on the central lowland canals back in the early noughties, it was apparent he had a book or two in him. Together with Andrew Froud and Keith French, Neil has brought together a wide spread of research into bat social calls and given them widely-understood classifications, with clear information about each. A very useful companion to Jon Russ' book.

Atlas of the mammals of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crawley, et al, 2020

The result of a huge piece of research, led by the Mammal Society, this book has the most accurate distribution maps for each UK mammal species currently available. When it was published last year it represented a huge step forward - previous bat distribution information was woefully out of date and didn't reflect the advances achieved by modern bat detectors. Plus it has all the other UK mammal species too!

Designing for biodiversity – a technical guide for new and existing buildings (2nd edition) Gunnell, Murphy & WIlliams, 2013

I've lost count of the number of times I have pointed architects and developers towards this book. Co-published by the Bat Conservation Trust and the Royal Institute of British Architects, it contains ideas and technical guidance for building bat boxes and bird boxes into a wide range of new-build structures.

Bats in traditional buildings Howard & Richardson, 2009

This is effectively the building restoration companion to 'Designing for Biodiversity'. Co-published by English Heritage, The National Trust and Natural England, with input from the Bat Conservation Trust, it is again the book that I point many clients towards. It brings together a great deal of useful information on how to take bats into account when managing, restoring and repairing historic buildings.

As soon as I get time I'll write about the bat books that inspire me. Watch this space!

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