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The 2024 season has started!
See below for details on taking part.

Welcome to the North Somerset Bat Survey! This project is part of the South West Wildlife Monitoring Project led by the Bat Conservation Research Lab at the University of Bath, working in partnership with BTONorth Somerset Council and the Avon Wildlife Trust.

Bats, due to the wide range of habitats they occupy and their sensitivity to environmental disturbance (among other reasons), serve as excellent 'bioindicators'. This means that the health of their populations provides us with a good picture of how wildlife is faring overall. As top predators of nocturnal insects, bats play a crucial role in the stability of ecosystems. Despite this, unsustainable development threatens bat populations globally through habitat loss and fragmentation. This is especially true in the South West. Over the next 15 years, North Somerset Council are required to build over 20,000 new homes, many of which will be built within areas used by rare bat species.

The North Somerset Bat Survey aims to gather spatial distribution data on bats across North Somerset to enable council planners to minimise the impact of development on bats and wildlife at large, whilst engaging the public with bat conservation.

How does it work?

The North Somerset Bat Survey is a citizen science project, meaning that we rely on people like you to conduct bat monitoring surveys, no experience required!


This is how it works:

1. Sign up by reserving a 1 km square to survey (please only survey each square once per year).


2. Choose a survey location within your 1 km square and get permission from the landowner (if necessary) using our standard letter and landowner permission slip.


3. Reserve a detector (8 days/7 nights) from one of our Detector Hosting Centres.


4. Deploy the detector in your 1 km square for 6 nights.


5. Upload the data to our system.


6. Return the kit to the Detector Hosting Centre.


7. Await results!

Important Note: To participate, you’ll need a few things:

  1. A smartphone or tablet equipped with a Bluetooth chipset of version 4.0 or higher.

  2. A desktop PC or laptop running on at least Windows 7 or Apple OS X 10.10 (or later versions).

  3. A reliable internet connection for uploading data.

  4. Up to 30 GB of hard drive space to temporarily store data before uploading from the SD card.

  5. Ideally, a bamboo cane/post onto which you can affix your detector >1.5 m above the ground.

  6. A sense of adventure!


If you encounter any technical issues while uploading audio files, don’t worry! You can simply post us your SD card and we’ll take care of the rest.

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How do I take part?

Please follow our step by step instructions below with links to PDF downloads and videos for a full comprehensive outline of what you need to do to complete the survey. All of the video tutorials and print-outs can be found on the resources page.

Before Your Survey

(What you need to do to prepare for your survey)

Reserve a survey square 

  1. Click here to choose your survey square

  2. In your square pick your location (Video 2)

  3. Contact the landowner and get permission.​​   Please allow up to 2 weeks for the landowner to grant permission.

  4. Send us the completed permission form


Video 2 - choosing your site 

Landowner permission form 

Set up Epicollect

  1. Download and set up Epicollect on your phone

  2. Sign up to the NSBS Epicollect project


Epicollect set up guide

Reserve a Detector

  1. Choose a detector centre near you and reserve a detector kit

  2. Important! You should book via the booking link which was emailed to you after you have reserved your square 

Create a BTO Account

  1. Create a BTO account and register for the BTO Pipeline

  2. Install the desktop upload client

  3. Install the Songmeter Configurator App


Quick start guide p1-3

Day of Survey

(What you need to do on the first day of surveying)

Collect and prepare kit 

  1. Follow the instructions to set up your detector prior to deployment

  2. Double-check the batteries are charged and the SD card is wiped.


Quick start Guide p 4-6

Video 3 - set up guide

Visit square and place detector

  1. Visit your square

  2. Decide on the best location to set your detector


Quick start guide 7-8

Video 4 - placing your detector

Set up your detector

  1. Configure and set up your detector in the field.

  2. Ideally, the detector should be affixed to a bamboo cane/pole. The detector should be kept at least 1.5 metres above the ground and 1.5 m away from vegetation. This is to ensure high quality recordings.


Quick start guide 9-12

Video 5 - setting your detector

Complete your Epicollect form

  1. Before leaving the detector make sure you complete your Epicollect form

  2. Then you can leave your detector for 6 nights!


Quick start guide p13-15

Video 6  -  Complete Epicollect

After Recording

(What to do once the 6 days recording is finished)

Collect Detector

  1. Collect your detector

  2. Pack your kit up

  3. Complete your Epicollect Form


Quick start guide -15-16

Video 6 - Collecting kit

Upload data to BTO

  1. Once you get home, upload your data to the BTO pipeline.

  2. This step can take a while depending on how many recordings you've collected/your internet speed.


Quick start guide p17-19

Video 7 - uploading data

Recharge the batteries

  1. Recharge the batteries using the charger

  2. Empty (wipe) the SD card 

Return Kit 

  1. Return the kit box to the detector hosting centre

  2. Await your results!

  3. (Optional) Provide feedback!

How do I take part?

Join our community!


Need help?

If you have any queries, please get in touch and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You may find the answers you need quicker by reading our

Troubleshooting Guide or list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).


Info About Data

All results are confidential. Please do not share your raw data online or with anyone else! However, sharing your general findings with family and friends is encouraged!

All the information you need to set up the detector is included in the detector kit and also available on our resources page.

Collecting data over several years will provide us with lots of useful information about how bats use the landscape and will allow us to monitor any changes in distribution and abundance. Therefore, if possible, we ask that you consider monitoring your 1 km-square for the long-term.

Get in contact with us if you need help or have any questions at

Funders & Partners

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We thank our partners and funders for their essential contribution to the success of this project.

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