Bats go wild for Fort Burgoyne

29th May 2020

When the Land Trust took on the management of Fort Burgoyne in Dover, much of the site hadn’t been used for eight years.

Despite works to regenerate the Fort and work towards opening the site for public use, the Fort has instead become home to over 500 bats.

Surveys have been carried out at the historic landmark since 2015 to determine how many bats are living in the fort and its surroundings, and to find out what type of creatures reside there and how they behave.

In surveys carried out in 2019 and 2020, over 500 individual bats were spotted in one night, with 50 being tagged to further aid research in the understanding of bat behaviour and record numbers of hibernating bats found within the fort.

The count in 2020 was the highest recorded in nine consecutive years of bat surveying at Fort Burgoyne.

Another positive finding to come out of the survey was that no bats are residing in the moat walls which have planned repairs due to be carried out. Bats are a protected species and to disturb their habitat would be extremely detrimental to them.

Chris Valdus, Project Manager at Fort Burgoyne, said: “We know that many bats are using the Fort to hibernate during the winter months, which is great.

“It’s a safe place for these creatures where they won’t be disturbed. The Land Trust is a charity with environment and biodiversity at the core of what we do, so it’s really important to us that we protect and encourage protected species such as bats that live on our sites.

“As we continue to develop the site with the aim of making it a destination for the community and visitors from further afield, we will always keep in mind the environment in addition to the historic importance of this building and its surroundings.”

The Fort was host to a successful community event in February, which was organised as part of Pioneering Places East Kent’s year-long project to engage the community with the site.

It is hoped that more community events will be able to take place when Covid-19 restrictions allow for safe social gatherings.

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