Bitterns, bats and newts mapped for first time

Three new reports from the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (GLNP) map sightings of bittern, bats and newts for the first time in Greater Lincolnshire.

Using data from the Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre, the reports map all of the recorded sightings of each species made over more than three decades:pre-1991, 1991-2000, and 2001-2012. The changing patterns of dots on the maps give an indication of the distribution of the species as well as interest in the species and technological advances. The Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership has worked closely with the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire Bird Club, Lincolnshire Amphibian and Reptile Group, Lincolnshire Bat Group and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust in producing these reports.

Bittern have been continuously recorded since 1979 when the Lincolnshire Bird Club was formed. This long and consistent surveyor effort means that the bittern maps are an accurate reflection of a species distribution. Therefore changes on the maps are actual changes in species distribution caused by changes in habitat, predation and breeding success.

The newt report covers three species of newt: smooth, palmate and great crested. The newt maps are more indicative of surveyor effort rather than a true representation of distribution. The gaps in distribution such as the Isle of Axholme represent a shortage of records being submitted rather than a lack of newts.

The maps for the twelve bat species indicate increased technological ability to tell bats apart and an increased interest in recording bats. For pipistrelle bats the maps pre-1991 are blank as common and soprano pipistrelles were not separated into two species until 1995, when DNA analysis showed a clear difference between them. They can now be identified with 'bat
detectors' as they call at different frequencies.

In order to be able to better protect species and their habitats and prevent declines, it is important to have an accurate picture of the distribution and population status of a wide range of species. The reports will be used to inform conservation action on the ground and identify trends for species but they also highlight areas where more recording is needed.

More information is needed on:

  • Bittern sightings and booming activity
  • Newt sightings or a lack of newts where there were previously newts
  • Bat sightings and location of roosts/suspected roosts

This information, as well as records of other species, can be submitted to Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre.

For any record it is important to include as much information as possible, in particular:

  • What – the species (and number if more than one)
  • When – the date seen
  • Where – the location of the sighting (a grid reference or postcode is best)
  • Who – contact details in case any further details are needed

The reports will be updated every five years to give an estimate of change and trends.