Brown Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus auritus)
Noctule Bat (Nyctalus noctula)
Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) - Species Action Plan

Ref 1/S30 Species Action Plan 30
Plan Author: Norfolk County Council
(Catherine Greenhough)
Plan Co-ordinator: Communities and Nature Topic Group
Plan Leader: Norwich Bat Group
Date: 4 June 2009
Stage: Final


Brown long-eared bats can be distinguished from all other bats by their enormous ears, which measure 3/4 the length of their body. They are a medium-sized bat, weighing from 6-12 grams. Brown long-eared bats are associated with open woodland and parkland and are heavily reliant on dwellings for roost opportunities.

Noctules are the largest bats in the UK, weighing from 18-40 grams with a wingspan of 330-450 mm. They occur in a range of habitats and feed in the open, often over trees. Noctules roost almost exclusively in trees.

Soprano pipistrelle bats are one of the smallest bats in the UK, weighing 4-8 grams. They form the largest maternity colonies of all UK bats (500-700 bats are not uncommon). Soprano pipistrelles have a strong affinity for riparian habitats for foraging and are heavily reliant on buildings for roost opportunities.

This grouped action plan addresses the needs of brown long-eared, noctule and soprano pipistrelle bats. However, the actions proposed apply to all 12 bat species resident in Norfolk (Table 1) because:

  • All bat species and their roosts are equally protected by law;
  • The conservation problems faced by all bats are believed to be generally similar, so measures proposed here are likely to be of benefit to a number of species; and
  • Those organisations and individuals currently concerned with the conservation of bats deal with all species.

Table 1. Bats recorded in Norfolk (based on NBIS bat records, 2009)

Common name Latin Comments
Barbastelle Barbastella barbastelles Likely significant population
Brown long-eared Plecotus auritus Second most common bat in Norfolk1
Noctule Nyctalus noctula  
Serotine Eptesicus serotinus  
Leisler's Nyctalus leisleri  
Soprano pipistrelle Pipistrellus pygmaeus Under recorded
Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus Most frequently recorded bat in Norfolk1
Nathusius' pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii Rarest bat breeding in Norfolk1
Daubenton's Myotis daubentonii Third most common bat in Norfolk1
Natterer's Myotis nattereri  
Whiskered/Brandt's Myotis mystacinus/Myotis brandtii Brandt's bat was not recognized as separate species in Britain until 1970 (Harris et al. 1995).

Action Plan Summary

Current Status

National Status

  • Brown long-eared bats are common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland except for the Scottish islands (Richardson, 2000). The UK population is estimated to be around 245,000 individuals (JNCC, 2007). The conservation status of this species is favourable (JNCC, 2007).
  • Noctule bats are restricted to England, Wales and south-west Scotland (Richardson, 2000). The UK population is estimated to be around 50,000 individuals (JNCC, 2007). The conservation status of this species is unknown (JNCC, 2007).
  • Soprano pipistrelle bats are common and widely distributed across Britain and Ireland, although they are more common in Scotland and parts of Ireland (Richardson, 2000). The UK population is estimated to be 1,300,000 individuals (JNCC, 2007). The conservation status of this species is unknown (JNCC, 2007).

Norfolk Status

  • Brown long-eared bats: Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) holds over 500 records of this species dating back to 1897. Brown long-eared bats appear to be distributed throughout Norfolk. There are, however, no records of this species towards the west of Norfolk (although this may simply be a reflection of recording effort rather than an absence of the species). Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of brown long-eared bats in Norfolk.
  • Noctule bats: NBIS holds over 400 records dating back to 1896. From these records, this species appears to be less widely distributed than brown long-eared bats but again this may be simply a reflection of recording effort. Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of noctule bats in Norfolk.
  • Soprano pipistrelle bats: NBIS holds around 160 records, dating back to 1998. No records for this species exist prior to this date because the common pipistrelle P. pipistrellus and soprano pipistrelle were considered the same species. It is likely that the soprano pipistrelle species is under-recorded in Norfolk. Figure 3 illustrates the distribution of soprano pipistrelle bats in Norfolk.

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Current factors causing loss or decline in Norfolk

The threats to bats in Norfolk are not fully known, but are likely to include:

  • Loss of significant roost sites (i.e. maternity and hibernation sites) in man-made structures and trees, resulting from lack of awareness, entrenched attitudes towards bats and ignorance of the legislation protecting them.
  • Loss of and disturbance to other roost sites caused by the same factors listed above.
  • Loss and degradation of feeding habitats as a result of development and changes in land-use. Of particular concern is the loss of wetlands, woodlands and grasslands, the in-filling of ditches, dykes, ponds and pools, and the increased use of pesticides as a result of agricultural intensification.
  • Disturbance to, or destruction of, commuting routes resulting from the removal of hedgerows and the artificial illumination of linear features such as rivers and hedgerows.

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Current Action in Norfolk

  • Natural England provides free advice services about bats, primarily aimed at householders and churches, including, where appropriate, a visit by one of its bat worker volunteers. In Norfolk, the Bat Conservation Trust has been contracted to administer the 'batline' advice service.
  • Organisations such as Norwich Bat Group, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the RSPB promote bat conservation within Norfolk at events such as Wild about Norfolk.
  • Norwich Bat Group, amongst other organisations, has a programme of guided walks, illustrated talks and training, and assists with the publication of articles in the local press.
  • Norwich Bat Group is involved with the Count Bat Project, which aims to involve under-represented groups in bat conservation.
  • Norwich Bat Group participates in national and local surveys and research, including the Bat Conservation Trust's National Bat Monitoring Programme.

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Action Plan Objectives and Targets


  • Brown long-eared bat: No national targets have been set.
  • Noctule bat: No national targets have been set.
  • Soprano pipistrelle bat: No national targets have been set


Maintain existing (minimum) range of bats in Norfolk as follows:

  • Brown long-eared: 63 occupied 10 km2 squares1;
  • Noctule: 46 occupied 10 km2 squares1; and
  • Soprano pipistrelles: 27 occupied 10 km1 squares.

Please note that this figure will be revised following the completion of the Norfolk Bats and Roadside Mammals Survey which is being carried out from 2009 to 2010.

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