A recent National Lottery Grant helped us fund the repair and strengthening of the cloister wall, but why have our stonemasons have left gaps and some areas unaltered?
The answer, is to accommodate the rare Natterer’s bats (Myotis nattereri) which have made their home in the cloister wall. We have intentionally left gaps and voids, so the bats can continue to use the wall as their home. You can find out more in this video by David Bodenham, applied ecologist.
What is a Natterer’s bat?
The Natterer’s bat is one of 18 resident bat species found in the United Kingdom. Like many bats, Natterer’s bats can be found roosting in buildings. However, they have a tendency to roost in older stone structures such as castles and churches. This makes Lincoln Cathedral the perfect home for this uncommon species of bat. The cloister walls are one of many locations within the Cathedral grounds, which make great homes for a number of bat species, including the Natterer’s bat.
Are the bats here all year round?
Natterer’s bats use the crevices in the cloister walls during the winter months as hibernation roosts. In Spring, they will move to other roosting sites, before arriving at their summer roosts. In December, they will once again move back into their hibernation sites, which tend to be cooler, like the entrance of caves or mines. The cloister walls mimic these conditions and because of this, they are a suitable location for bats hibernating over the winter period.
Why are bats protected?
Bats are important in the UK for multiple reasons. Primarily, they are natural pest controllers. One natterer’s bat can eat over 3000 insects in a single night! That includes insects that eat crops and others that might bite you like mosquitoes.
Bats are also important indicators of biodiversity. Intensive agricultural practices have a direct effect on insect numbers and diversity. This has a knock-on effect on our bats who would normally feast on these insects. Fewer insects means fewer bats, and from bat data collected around the country we can measure the impact such practices are having on our environment