Network Rail has started a study into bat populations on the Oxford-Bedford rail line in preparation for upgrade work.
The study’s goal is to identify whether the rare Bechstein’s bat, which roosts in the Sheephouse Wood and Bernwood Estate area near Aylesbury is also found elsewhere on the line.
Network Rail’s environmental team have been trapping and tagging bats at dusk and dawn along the route. The team has also used automatic bat detectors to track the animals.
Lucie Anderton, senior environment manager for Network Rail said: “Simply from recording their calls, we already have a good understanding of the numbers and types of bats that use the existing rail corridor and surrounding habitat, however some species can only be identified by trapping them.
“We are very interested to find out if any of the rare Bechstein’s bats are present outside the Sheephouse/Bernwood area. These bats are associated particularly with ancient woodland habitats and so the trapping surveys are very focused.”
The study has identified Noctule, Natterers, Daubenton’s and Common Pipistrelle bats, but work has been suspended as female bats are now giving birth to their broods. The project will recommence later in the summer.