Update for Wildlife Acoustics bat detector users

Wildlife Acoustics have made some upgrades to their ultrasonic microphones this year – read on to understand what this means for you.

SMX-U1

SM2BAT+ user
An entirely new microphone is now available for SM2BAT+ users – the SMX-U1. This microphone is different in every respect from the original SMX-US microphone. The microphone element has been upgraded to a Knowles FG element which is more resistant to moisture but has greater sensitivity and a flatter frequency response so you will record more bats. The old foam windscreen has been replaced with a new and improved weatherproof membrane that will not hold water, and the microphone body is now slimmer and stronger. The old SMX-US microphone is still available in limited quantities if needed to provide continuity on a long term survey – please contact customer.services@nhbs.com to check availability before ordering.

SMM-U1

SM3BAT+ or SMZC user
The new SMM-U1 is electronically identical to the old SM3-U1 microphone and will give very similar results. The new model differs from the old version in two ways – the casing is now smaller and stronger and the old windscreen has been replaced by a new weatherproof membrane that will not hold water.

EM3+ (with optional external microphone) user
The EM3+ cannot be used with either of the new microphones. NHBS will continue to hold stock of the SMX-US and SMX-UT microphones for as long as possible for use as an external microphone for the EM3+ – pick up a spare if these are critical to your workflow.

More information
Here’s Wildlife Acoustics microphone guide showing all models, compatibility and microphone type.

wa_mic_guide

New firmware and software for SM3, SM3BAT, SM3M and SMZC:
Latest SM3 related software and firmware packages
Latest SMZC related software and firmware packages
Latest versions of documentation

 

 

Ecology gifts raise money for key UK conservation charities

Creature Candy mugsLizzie Barker is a working ecological consultant, and the creator of gift and homeware design company, Creature Candy. This newly-launched enterprise produces quality British-made products featuring hand-drawn illustrations of wildlife. As well as raising profits for the Bat Conservation Trust, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and Butterfly Conservation, Creature Candy also intends to raise awareness around the conservation of our endangered and protected wildlife. We asked Lizzie how it all came about:

What are your background and current interests as an ecologist?

I studied Zoology between 2007 and 2010 at Aberystwyth University and graduated with a first degree. I then went on to work at Darwin Ecology in September 2010 as a consultant ecologist and have been there ever since. It’s a great company to work for and my job is very varied, although I specialise in bats. I hold a Natural England bat and great crested newt survey licence, but I also survey for dormice, badgers and reptiles. I love the spring and summer months so I can get outdoors and explore the English countryside for wildlife.

Creature Candy printsWhat’s the story behind Creature Candy?

I wanted to take more of a proactive role in wildlife conservation and raise money for the charities that I work so closely with as a consultant. Two years ago (whilst sitting on my sun lounger in Portugal) I came up with the idea of Creature Candy. I not only wanted to raise money for the charities, but also raise awareness of Britain’s declining & protected wildlife species, and to inspire people to take active roles in conservation. It was also incredibly important to me to change perceptions of bats, which is why my first design was a beautiful, charismatic brown long-eared bat illustrated in its true form, not a typical black silhouette with red eyes and fangs! It was also a priority to produce all our products with a “Made in England” stamp on them, which I think is very appealing in today’s market dominated by mass produced imported products.

How do you find the time to be an ecologist and an entrepreneur?

It’s a very hard balance to achieve. On a typical day, I switch off from the ecological consultancy world at 5pm, make myself a cup of tea and re-enter my office as the Director of Creature Candy. I then usually work for a few hours each night on marketing, processing orders and accounting, before spending some time with my husband before bed. It’s very important to find time for a social life and to relax, and I’m sometime guilty of over-working. However my husband is very supportive and I couldn’t manage the business without that support.

Can you tell us more about the artwork, and what’s to come for the range?

Our illustrations are hand drawn by my friend Jo Medlicott. Jo is a very talented artist and draws inspiration for our designs from photography and the natural world. Our next design is likely to be a red squirrel or a bird and we would like to introduce aprons and fine bone china jugs into the product range. The rest is top secret!Creature Candy moth tea towel

Browse Creature Candy products at NHBS

Getting started with the SM2BAT+ bat detector

SM2BAT+The Wildlife Acoustics Song Meter SM2BAT+ is a passive ultrasound recorder that can be left out in the field for long periods of time to record ultrasound at frequencies of up to 192 kHz. The SM2BAT+ comes packaged in a plain green weatherproof box making it easy to position discretely without the need for expensive or time consuming efforts to weatherproof/camouflage it. Setting a bat detector up for passive monitoring can be a slightly daunting experience for the first time user so we have produced an annotated internal diagram (see below right – click the image to enlarge) and this blog post describing our experiences getting started with the SM2BAT+. Despite feeling a little scared at Inside the SM2BAT+the sight of circuit boards I am pleased to report that I found the SM2BAT+ to be very user friendly – read on for our idiot’s guide to setting up an SM2BAT+.

Getting started

The first thing you will need to do is insert four D-Cell batteries into the slots. A number of variables affect battery life including the quality/type of the battery, temperature, and the recording mode. The manual produced by Wildlife Acoustics suggests that if high quality Alkaline D-Cells are used at 20oC then you should get 130 hours recording time at 192 kHz mono and 100 hours recording time at 192 kHz stereo or 384 kHz mono when using in WAV mode and over 300 hours of recording time when using ZCA mode.

Next you will need to insert an SDHC card into one of the Flash Card Slots. Wildlife Acoustics recommend using good quality SDHC Class 4 or Class 6 cards and a single 32GB card should easily last a minimum of 2 weeks.

How to programme your SM2BAT+

Now it is time to programme your SM2BAT+. Setting up a simple schedule is very easy, switch the unit on by pressing the WAKE/EXIT button. Once it has woken up you will be able to see whether your SDHC card has been accepted and how much spare memory is available. To programme your unit press the SELECT button to see the menu; then to scroll through the menu options press the UP and DOWN buttons, press BACK to move back up a level, and press SELECT to move left and/or toggle through a list of options.

Below left shows a schematic (click to enlarge) of the Song Meter Main Menu and includes the settings I used for a trial run of the SM2BAT+. The first page of the menu includes three options – Schedule, Settings and Utilities. Setting the schedule could not be easier, press SELECT when the cursor is flashing next to Schedule, then press SELECT again, update the time using the UP and DOWN buttons then press SELECT again to keep moving to the left filling in the details as you go. You will see that I have set our SM2BAT+ to come on at 20:30 and record for 10 hours.

SM2BAT+ SchematicPress BACK to come out of the Schedule menu and then DOWN to move to Settings, then SELECT again to enter the Settings menu. For a quick test of the unit you will need to set the time and date using the UP, DOWN, SELECT, and BACK buttons as before. Finally select AUDIO to check the recording settings. In my test run I opted for a Sample rate of 384000 (384 kHz) because we have lesser horseshoe bats in the Totnes area. This is because the maximum frequency recorded is equal to half the sample rate – consequently, at a sample rate of 384 kHz the SM2BAT+ will record ultrasound at frequencies up to 192 kHz on one channel (perfect for lesser horseshoes that echolocate at around 110 kHz). If you want to use both channels (i.e. two microphones) you have to record at a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz. Although you may miss lesser horseshoe bats the big advantage of using both channels is that you can separate the microphones (using extension cables – available from NHBS) by up to 100m, effectively doubling the number of bat detectors you own for the price of a couple of cables. Alternatively you can separate the microphones by 10-20m to measure flight directionality along a linear feature.

Next you need to select which channel to record on. Under Channels I selected Mono-L to record from the left hand microphone input. For Compression I selected Off which means that the SM2BAT+ is in trigger mode and records individual WAV files for each trigger.  Analook users may prefer to use the ZCA option which records individual ZCA files for each trigger. Alternatively, some users may prefer the WAC0 option which produces a continuous compressed WAC file for the duration of the recording period (actually the files are size limited so I found that 1hr 33min chunks are produced). That’s it… all you need to do now is take your SM2BAT+ to your field site.

Field set-up

Once at your field site check the settings and do a test recording. To do this plug some headphones into the headphone jack and start recording by pressing both the UP and DOWN buttons simultaneously. Once the recording has started press SELECT to view the channels and then make some ultrasound by eg. tapping your fingers and thumb together or rattling some keys. If all is well then put your unit back to sleep, seal the weatherproof enclosure (don’t forget to take a screwdriver with you) and plug your microphone in to the left hand microphone input (using your extension cable makes hiding the unit much easier). It is worth remembering that the indicator LED is visible when the lid is on so make sure this cannot be seen by passers-by.

Data analysis

Downloading the data is also easy – simply remove the SDHC card and place it into an SD card reader. To analyse the data I used Pettersson’s BatSound v4.12. My WAV files opened immediately and I used the Close, open, next button to scroll quickly through the files so the analysis was quick and painless. On my first night I recorded soprano pipistrelle and greater horseshoe bats in the centre of Totnes.

Available now from NHBS

 

Save 35% on ten natural history classics from Johns Hopkins UP this June

Always setting a high standard for scientific publishing, Johns Hopkins University Press titles span the range of our natural history subject areas providing solid high-quality research from top academics.

These ten books from JHUP have been – and continue to be – bestsellers at NHBS, and they are all on special offer at 35% off this June:

Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats jacket imageEcological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats

First published in 1988, “Ecological and Behavioral Methods for the Study of Bats” is widely acknowledged as the primary reference for both amateur and professional bat researchers. Only one group of mammals includes more species than bats. Bats live on every continent except Antarctica, range from deserts to tropical forests to mountains, and their activities have a profound effect on the ecosystems in which they live.

The Biology of Small Mammals jacket imageThe Biology of Small Mammals

The first exploration of the lives of small mammals undertaken in decades. Mammalogist Joseph F. Merritt offers an engaging, in-depth discussion about a diverse array of small mammals, from the rare Kitti’s hog-nosed bat of Southeast Asia to the bizarre aye-aye of Madagascar to the familiar woodchuck of North America.

Walker's Mammals of the World (Complete Edition) jacket imageWalker’s Mammals of the World (Complete Edition)

The sixth edition is 24% longer, and the number of separate genera has increased by 75 – among them, three remarkable large ungulates recently discovered in the forests of Indochina. New also is a full account of the woolly mammoth, now known to have survived until less than 4,000 years ago.

 

Walker's Bats of the World jacket imageWalker’s Bats of the World

Introduction by Thomas H. Kunz and Elizabeth D. Pierson. The first single segment of the leading reference workWalker’s Mammals of the World to become available as a separate volume. It is a complete guide to this varied order of mammals and includes scientific and common names, as well as the number and distribution of species, measurements and physical traits, habitat, daily and seasonal activity, population dynamics, home range, social life, reproduction, and longevity.

The Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million Years of Evolution jacket imageThe Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million Years of Evolution

For nearly 100 million years amphibians and their ancestors dominated the terrestrial and shallow water environments of the earth. Archaic animals with an amphibious way of life gave rise not only to modern frogs, salamanders, and caecilians but also to the ancestors of reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Mountain Gorillas: Biology, Conservation and Coexistence jacket imageMountain Gorillas: Biology, Conservation and Coexistence

Tucked into one of the most beautiful and conflicted regions of the world are the last of the mountain gorillas. These apes have survived centuries of human encroachment into their range and decades of intense conflict and violence. The remaining 720 mountain gorillas exist in a fragile habitat, nestled in an area torn by human interests and needs for land, water, and minerals.

Dragonfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera jacket imageDragonfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Anisoptera

Dragonfly Genera of the New World is a beautifully illustrated and comprehensive guide to the taxonomy and ecology of dragonflies in North, Middle, and South America. A reference of the highest quality, this book reveals their striking beauty and complexity. Although Odonata – dragonflies and damselflies – are among the most studied groups of insects, until now there has been no reliable means to identify the New World genera of either group.

Damselfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera jacket imageDamselfly Genera of the New World: An Illustrated and Annotated Key to the Zygoptera

In this companion volume to “Dragonfly Genera of the New World”, Rosser W. Garrison, Natalia von Ellenrieder, and Jerry A. Louton provide a comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to the damselflies of North, Central, and South America. Damselflies are more diverse and harder to identify than dragonflies.

Forest Ecosystems jacket imageForest Ecosystems

This acclaimed textbook is the most comprehensive available in the field of forest ecology. Designed for advanced students of forest science, ecology, and environmental studies, it is also an essential reference for forest ecologists, foresters, and land managers.

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes jacket imageChimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

The first edition of Frans de Waal’s “Chimpanzee Politics” was acclaimed not only by primatologists for its scientific achievement but also by politicians, business leaders, and social psychologists for its remarkable insights into the most basic human needs and behaviors. Twenty-five years later, this book is considered a classic.

View the list of special offer books as a web page

New Edition of Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines – available now

From the Bat Conservation Trust website:

The Bat Conservation Trust encourages people working with bats, or those who might come into contact with bats or their roosts during their daily lives, to follow good practice.

We have worked with organisations and individuals across many sectors to develop a range of guidance to help you conduct your business or perform your work with consideration for bats.

Bat Surveys jacket imageBat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines, 2nd Ed.

Following feedback from experts in the field and authored by professionals, the Bat Conservation Trust has updated and revised the “Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines“. In line with the latest evidence and best practice the second edition features new chapters and content, with revised advice and guidance. This is the essential reference and guide for anyone involved in professional bat work.

BCT Members receive a 20% discount: please quote your membership number when ordering (in the ‘comments’ field when ordering online), and the discount will be applied when we process your order. Please disregard the full amount quoted in your shopping basket and automated order confirmation. If you are not a BCT member, click on the following link to join online now and claim your discount. 

Join the Bat Conservation Trust today

Triple Chamber Bat Box available from NHBS for the first time this autumn

Triple Chamber Bat BoxIntroducing the Triple Chamber Bat Box

 

NHBS’s new Triple Chamber Bat Box is available for the first time this autumn. The new bat box has three large chambers providing its inhabitants with a huge living area (compared with most other wooden bat boxes). Consequently, they are particularly well-suited to large colonies, including maternity colonies. Most crevice-dwelling bat species are likely to be attracted including Pipistrelles, Brown long-eared bats, and Daubentons. Species which may sometimes use these boxes include other Myotis species and Noctules.

Triple Chamber Bat Box interiorThe boxes are very deep, providing the bats with a stable draught-free environment and plenty of space for individuals to cluster together or disperse, and for the sexes to mingle or separate. Triple chamber boxes have proved to be a success in the U.S. where it is thought that the extra space provided gives bats the room to interact more normally. The boxes open at the top and are 60 cm high with a small aperture at the base of the box for bats to enter and exit. They are narrow (14 cm) and can easily be hung on both trees and buildings. The Triple Chamber Bat Box is constructed from European Redwood harvested from a sustainably managed forest.

Available Now from NHBS

“This tiny bundle of energy in my hand…”: John Altringham talks to the Hoopoe about bats

John Altringham, author of Bats: From Evolution to Conservation, discusses the appeal of bats, what they are, and how we should think about their conservation needs.

 

Bats: From Evolution to Conservation jacket imageHow did you first become interested in studying bats?

I was taken to a Natterer’s bat roost, almost 30 years ago now, and saw my first bat close up. I was a research scientist in biomechanics – trying to understand evolution’s engineering problems and solutions. This tiny bundle of energy in my hand was an engineering marvel I’d never really thought about, so I went away and read about bats. However, I didn’t read just about flight and echolocation, the subjects that came immediately to mind. As a zoologist and conservationist, I read more and more widely and became increasingly fascinated. Bats became an important ‘extra-curricular’ activity, but it was many years before they displaced biomechanics in my work. However, the seeds were most definitely sown during that very first encounter.

We all know what bats are, but – what exactly is a bat?

A bat is the only flying mammal and one of nature’s few echolocators. With these ‘skills’ it has evolved and radiated into the most diverse, the most widespread and the second most speciose group of mammals on the planet. A bat is a small mammal with the lifestyle of its much bigger cousins. It lives a long time, but only produces one baby a year. It lives within often complex social units, exhibiting complex behaviours, and makes use of the landscape on a grandiose scale through the seasons. It shows a bewildering range of ways that an animal can makes its way in the world. It is an important cog in many ecosystems, as predator, pollinator, seed disperser. Its contributions to the human economies of the world are only now being determined and appreciated. Likewise its value as an indicator of the planet’s health. It is a source of endless fascination, study and appreciation.

Why do you think there is such popular interest at this time in bat detection and conservation, and what can we learn from studying their ecology?

I really think that bats sell themselves. The formation of the bat conservation movement, some knowledgeable and enthusiastic activists and some cracking documentary footage are the catalysts in the bat conservation movement – the bats themselves do the rest, if we just show the world something of them.

Bats are also surprisingly accessible. It is relatively easy, even in suburban areas, to see and hearBats: From Evolution to Conservation internal image bats, sometimes at fairly close quarters – you can’t say that about many wild mammals. They often live in close proximity to humans, you don’t have to be particularly stealthy, and they just get on with life while you watch – they have a lot to offer the casual naturalist. However, there are plenty of challenges for the more dedicated naturalist.

The need for conservation is pretty self-evident. Bats need large home ranges in connected landscapes, they rely on threatened habitats for both roosting and feeding and they are slow to recover from population setbacks. However, there are modest things we can do to help them, from practical conservation to education, which encourages widespread involvement – and success fuels further effort. Conservation needs passion and commitment – bats appear to have the charisma to generate them.

Conservation gets a big chapter in the book – it is the focus of a large and growing proportion of ecological research. There has been a lot of bridge building between research ecologists and conservation practitioners in recent years, but we still have some way to go. I’ve tried to highlight some of the issues in this chapter – evidence-based conservation is the future!

What can we learn from bats? Where do I start?! Science is all about understanding how the natural world works. Everything we learn, from the ecology of individual species to the general processes that govern the way ecosystems function, comes from the study of appropriate ‘models’. The sheer diversity of bats means that they offer useful models to study all sorts of things – just look at the topics I cover in the book.

How do you see the future for bats?

Bats: From Evolution to Conservation internal imageI have no idea what the future holds, for bats or the rest of biodiversity. I do think bats are among the more vulnerable animals, so looking after bats is a good way to protect other animals and plants that share their habitats. We have a growing knowledge about what we are doing wrong to our environment and what we need to do to begin to put things right. However, there is a lack of will among politicians and the ‘captains’ of commerce and industry to provide the conditions and the resources to do it. Lots of talking the talk, little walking the walk. Conservation will always be a compromise – but the balance point is far from the right place. Too many people still think of conservation in terms of what we sacrifice to achieve it, not what we gain from it. We need more objective science in conservation, alongside the passion and hard work. They provide the evidence that forces people to act and they help us to decide how to use most effectively the limited resources we have at our disposal.

Bats: From Evolution to Conservation jacket image

NHBS stock an extensive range of bat conservation equipment, supplying a range of customers from ecological consultants needing bulk stock for a construction project, to amateur naturalists keen to investigate their local bat population and do their bit for conservation.

Browse our range of bat detection equipment

Browse our range of bat boxes

NHBS Customer Services will happily discuss your needs and advise you on the best purchase for your project.

Phone: +44(0) 1803 865913

Email: customer.services@nhbs.co.uk

Five reasons to use a Batcorder

BatcorderEcoObs’ Batcorder is the first of a new generation of autonomous bat recording devices designed to produce higher quality recording and automated identification. The key benefits of the Batcorder system are:

1 .Save time and reduce costs

By automatically analysing bat calls, the Batcorder will save you significant amounts of time.  The exceptional quality of recordings made by the Batcorder means you can be more certain of correctly identifying a species either automatically or manually.  Automatic species identifications can be carried out in a few minutes (watch our short video to see the process in action).

2. Higher quality recordings

The unique omni-directional microphone, as well as the reduction in echoes from the main body of the unit, ensure a clear picture of bat activity at the recording site.  The sensitive bat call trigger ensures that the vast majority of recordings made by the Batcorder are from bats.  Recordings of other sounds (crickets, rustling leaves, water, wind and wind turbine movements) are under most circumstances not recorded at all.

bcAnalyze

3. Consistent results

In contrast to other bat detectors, each Batcorder and its microphone are calibrated for a fixed sensitivity.  Thus, the comparison of bat activity recorded at different locations is guaranteed to be unbiased.

4. Flexible autonomous use

The Batcorder is a weatherproof autonomous recording device designed to be left in the field for multiple nights.  It has a typical battery life of 6-10 nights (based on the level of activity at the site), and space for 30,000 calls (when using a 32GB SDHC card).  A special Wind Turbine Extension Kit allows continuous deployments in excess of 30 days to minimise the need to access the in situ Batcorder.

5. Designed by bat workers

Batcorder 2The entire Batcorder System has been designed by bat workers for bat workers.  It’s user-friendly with an intuitive powerful call management system, allowing you to download, analyse, catalogue and search for calls easily.  You don’t need to go on a training course to get started with the Batcorder.

The Batcorder is distributed in the UK & Ireland by NHBS. If you’d like to find out more, please contact Dr Adrian Gude, NHBS Wildlife Equipment Specialist.

Batcorder: 5 easy steps to automatic bat identification

To find out how the Batcorder System works, watch the 6 minute demonstration video.  This video will revolutionise your bat work!  CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO

The Batcorder and associated software is the most advanced bat detection and identification system available.  Fast becoming the most popular choice in continental Europe, the Batcorder is set to revolutionise your bat work.  Read on for a brief introduction to the Batcorder system and how it could benefit you.

Step 1.  Batcorder – advanced data recorder

BatcorderThe Batcorder is the most advanced sound recorder available; such a high quality recording is essential for later analysis using the automatic recognition software.  It records bat calls in real-time, whilst excluding other sounds such as crickets, rustling leaves, etc.  Simply leave the Batcorder out in the field (battery life is 8 to 10 nights) and it will make high quality recordings (500kHz / 16 bit) of every bat call.  Calls are recorded on an SDHC card (up to 32GB).  The Batcorder is waterproof and fully programmable.  Most importantly, the Batcorder features an omnidirectional microphone mounted on an extender.  This eliminates reflection from the main body of the device whilst maintaining 360 degree coverage.  The slim microphone tip minimises distortion, which can be a problem with other detectors that have wider microphone membranes.

 

Step 2. bcAdmin – call management software

bcAdminOnce you’ve got your recordings, bcAdmin provides an intuitive software package to manage the data.  Individual calls are stored in connection with location, call length, time and other information.  Search functions exist to aid in finding individual calls.  Most importantly, bcAdmin automatically prepares the data for analysis using batIdent.  Once the analysis is complete, bcAdmin can present the data in a variety of forms to provide instant graphical representation of bat activity.

 

Step 3. batIdent – free analysis software

At a click of the button, bcAdmin will import bat calls into batIdent, the freely available call analysis software.  batIdent has a call library of 77,000 bat calls (and counting!) which can be used to identify 27 species from 11 genera (with some species only to genus).  Utilising the freely available statistical package R, batIdent performs single call analysis in a multi step process.  Illustrated below is the decision tree which it uses to identify bats.  The tree also shows which bats can be identified by batIdent to species and which bats to genus.  Currently the call library covers all mid and northern European species and most Mediterranean species.  During a typical analysis, batIdent will identify 85% of the calls recorded.  The remaining 15% will be excluded as the recording is of insufficient quality or duration to make a positive identification.  Up to three species can be identified in any one recording and a percentage probability is provided for each species identification.

batIdent

 

Step 4. bcAnalyse – manual analysis software

bcAnalyseFor those wanting to perform additional manual analysis on calls, the additional software package bcAnalyse is also available.  bcAnalyse lets you view the oszillogram, spectrum and sonogram of the sound file.  The user friendly design means you can quickly browse calls and select sound to be transformed into a sonogram or spectral display.  bcAnalyse allows you to manually confirm batIdent results or analyse recordings made using other systems.

 

Step 5. Economies of Scale

The Batcorder system scales effortlessly for large projects.  Each microphone is supplied with a correction factor, so recordings from different Batcorders can be directly compared.  Check out the Wind Turbine Extension to find out how the Batcorder can be deployed for wind farm studies.  bcAdmin and batIdent eliminate the time taken for lengthy call analysis.  Both the Batcorder and software packages have a proven track record and are on their second or third versions following improvements from earlier versions. 

Batcorder

Click on the relevant link for more information on the Batcorder, Software and Accessories.

Guide to Mist Nets

Please note, the sale of mist nets is restricted to those with an appropriate licence or permit. Please provide a copy when ordering.

NHBS offers a range of mist nets to meet specific requirements when catching bats or birds.  All of our mist nets are manufactured to high standards and feature the following advantages;

  • Net design is based on more than 30 years experience.
  • All nets are made from the highest quality nylon and polyester netting.
  • All nets are black and UV sun-protected; the material and colours are durable and long-lasting.
  • The special knots used in all our nets help to prevent the loops and shelf strings from moving.
  • The construction with positioning strings prevents wind shift of the netting.
  • Each net comes with a cotton bag.

Mist NetsNew Loops

All designs of net have recently been upgraded with new loops.  Net loops are now marked with an indelible serial number to help track nets used illegally.  The serial number is placed on one of the colour loops and on the product label as well.  The new mist net loops are longer and stronger than previous designs.  Top loops are colour-coded and equipped with stoppers to make fast setting easier.  The new loops are also compatible with the telescopic mist net pole .

Understanding the Terminology

Net Dimensions

All net dimensions are given without loops and stretched to a standard tension.  Nets of 3m are ideal for paths and small clearings, whilst nets in excess of 15m in length require careful setting.  You should also ensure enough competent helpers are on hand to deal with large numbers of catches experienced by large nets.

Mesh Size

This is measured by one side of the square mesh, e.g. 16mm refers to a 16 x 16mm square mesh.  The mesh size should be ideally suited to your chosen target species.  If the mesh size is too small, the bat or bird may escape.  If the mesh size is too large, the bat or bird may become overly tangled in the net.  You also risk catching non-target species.  Target species for each net are provided in the product description.

Shelves

The number of shelves (given in the product description) refers to the number of rows of shelves on the net.  Nets of up to three shelves are tethered on a single shelf strand to prevent wind bunching the netting.  Nets with four or five shelves feature two tethered strands.

Denier and Ply

The denier and ply of a net provide an indication of the thickness, visibility and strength of the net.  Denier refers to the weight in grams of 9000 metres of thread.  Ply refers to the number of threads of a given denier wound round one another to make the fibre of the net.  The smaller the denier and ply, the lighter and thinner the net, e.g. a 70 denier/2 ply net is lighter, less visible, but normally less strong than a 210 denier/3 ply net.  However, differing materials can confound this relationship, e.g. polyester is heavier than nylon so the same denier net will be finer in polyester than in nylon.

Choosing a Mist Net

A mist net must be ideally suited to the target species, location and conditions of use.  To select the appropriate mist net, follow the stages below;

1. WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO CATCH?

Search the product pages to find all the nets suited to your chosen group.  Mist nets have been divided into four groups;

Mist Nets for Bats: includes all species of bats

Mist Nets for Small Birds: includes all small passerines

Mist Nets for Medium-sized Birds: includes medium-sized passerines, waders, small ducks, small to medium terns, small owls, small raptors

Mist Nets for Large Birds: includes medium to big waders, owls, medium to big raptors, medium to big ducks, geese and cormorants.

5-Hole Small Bird Ringing (Banding) Pliers2. CHOOSE BETWEEN NET TYPES

There are several net types to choose between, although not every net type will be found in every group of target individuals.

 

Ultra Thin Series M Mist Net

These nearly invisible ultra-thin monofilament nylon nets are perfect for catching the smallest birds (e.g. hummingbirds) and small bat species such as Pipstrellus sp.  They are available in two mesh sizes (14 and 20mm).

Series 700P (polyester) Mist Net

These polyester nets are recommended for catching small bats and birds.  They are barely visible and can be used in any habitat, including open areas.  The polyester fibre in UV resistant and does not absorb moisture.  In the morning or after rain, just shake the net to remove droplets.  A well-stretched net has only one layer (no pockets) and bats are less likely to echolocate it than a nylon net.  The polyester is also stronger and more durable than nylon.

Series 700 Mist Net

This classic design of net is deep black, UV stable and softer than polyester.  They can be used for catching birds and bats in all kinds of habitat, including open areas.  They are both popular and effective.

Series 1000 Mist Net

These nets are stronger and more durable than the Series 700 mist nets.  They are ideal for long term use; they remain as strong and as black as new after 500 days of continuous exposure in the field.  They are more visible than the Series 700 nets, so we recommend that they be set in front of trees or bushes to decrease visibility and to increase their effectiveness.  They are very safe for birds and effectively catch small to medium-sized species.

Series 2000 Mist Net

These nets are very strong and durable and are primarily designed to catch relatively big birds.  They are more visible than the Series 700 and 1000 nets so are most effective when used in shadow when the netting is less visible.  The 19mm mesh size nets are most suited to catching birds at night, such as when using recorded calls.

3. CHOOSING SPECIFIC NETS

Once you’ve settled on your chosen net type to catch your target species, you should then consider the dimensions of the net.  The mesh size should be ideally suited to the target species (see above).  The length of the net should suit its location (e.g. path, clearing, open habitat) and the size of catch required.  Make sure there are helpers to properly monitor the whole net.  Consider the height of the net and number of shelves, the type and height of the vegetation in your sample area, as well as light conditions.

4.  ERECTING THE NET

Mist Net Mounting SetFinally, ensure the net is erected properly on suitable poles, such as the telescopic mist net pole.  Nets may stretch over time so if left in place for prolonged periods, they must be tightened to keep the net taut.  Ensure the nets are protected from overstretching – using a Mounting Set with rubber rope can help prevent this.

If you require any further information then please contact us.  Mist nets are for use by trained ringers; you will need to supply a copy of your appropriate licence or permit when ordering.