Devon Bat Survey

*PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT BOOK A SQUARE AT THIS TIME! due to Coronavirus, we are reviewing the feasibility of starting the 2020 survey and have postponed the start date to at least the end of April. Please check back here for future updates.*


You must first request a grid square. This will need to be accepted by us before you continue to book your date slot.

*Always check your junk folder in case booking replies go awry!*

Read this page and then click on the red button near the bottom to request a square.

If you have taken part previously please make sure that you read the instructions carefully as we have changed some aspects of the survey this year. New to 2019 is the requirement to add your location on the detector using the 4 figure grid reference for the square that you have booked. Please make a note of this on booking.

SM4 Bat Detector

                 SM4 Bat Detector

View the results from Devon Bat Survey 2016

View the results from Devon Bat Survey 2017

View the results from Devon Bat Survey 2018

What is Devon Bat Survey?

Want to know what bats are on your favourite walk, or in your local area?  

Borrow a bat detector to find out as part of the Devon Bat Survey. Read all of the information below before booking your detector.

All bats have a slightly different sound which they use for echolocation. We use SM4 bat detectors to listen to the bats’ calls to hear the different species. To find out more watch You Tube tutorials from Wildlife Acoustics.

How does it work?

From April-October, you can borrow an SM4 bat detector for 4 days from 20 Monitoring Centres across Devon.  We ask that you only make one booking to allow as many people as possible to take part in the survey.

Step 1

Choose a 1km grid square from our online map to put your detector in. This could be your garden, or in the wider countryside (with permission from the landowner). Please make a note of the square number you have booked – you will need this later!

Step 2

After selecting a square you will receive an email within a day or 2 from confirming your booking, which will invite you to click on a link to book a detector from one of the 20 Monitoring Centres.

IMPORTANT – if the confirmation email hasn’t arrived make sure you check your spam folder and allow access to

Step 3

Click on the link in the confirmation email to select your chosen Monitoring Centre and date slot. Make a note of the Centre details such as opening hours and phone number. Don’t forget to put the date on your calendar! You will receive a reminder a couple of days before you need to collect the equipment (but this sometimes goes into junk folders).

Step 4

Collect the detector, and follow the instructions to put it out for 3 nights in your chosen grid square. The detector will record any bats which pass by on an SD card (you won’t hear the sounds).

Please post back your SD card to us immediately after finishing your survey so we don’t run out of cards for other borrowers.

Step 5

Return the detector on the agreed day so it can be prepared for the next person.  

What if I don’t own the land I want to survey?

You must speak to the landowner before choosing a square to gain permission. Click here to download a letter to give to the landowner explaining about the survey. We will also need a signed form (click here to download the form) returned after the survey. The form also gives you information on how to find out who owns the land. If you choose a square and then cannot gain permission, contact the project team. We will help you choose another square. If you are placing the detector on someone else’s land, you must take someone else with you whilst you do so (for health and safety reasons).

What happens to the results?

Once the data has been analysed, a report will be sent to you, showing you all the bats that passed by. This can take up to 6 weeks, don’t forget to check your junk folder!). The report will come from one of the project team on an email address.

The information you collect will help us to understand where greater horseshoe bats live right across Devon. It could result in finding new roosts and will make sure that our work is focused in the right areas. Data on all bat species will be passed on to the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

In early 2020 new maps showing all the Greater Horseshoe Bat data recorded will be added to the website. We are  working to verify the other 500,000 potential bat passes that have been recorded – an enormous task that involves manually viewing each file! This autumn we aim to provide more information on all the species recorded so far.

Information for participants

Now make your booking

Please only select one grid square and one time slot, to ensure that as many different people as possible are able to book a detector and take part in the Devon Bat Survey.

Click on the red ‘Book a Bat Detector’ button below and follow the instructions to select a square. This will take you to our booking site (hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology). Once your chosen square has been approved, you will receive an email inviting you to book your detector slot. Remember to note down any specific details for your chosen centre, such as dates, any request to email/phone in advance, or opening hours. Two days before your booking you will receive a reminder with details of your booking.

Here’s a reminder of the Monitoring Centre details 2019

Please note that you must first request a grid square which will need to be approved before you continue to book your date slot.

*[DO NOT BOOK A SQUARE AT THIS TIME! Due to Coronavirus, we are reviewing the feasibility of starting the 2020 survey and have postponed the start date to at least the end of June. Please check back here for future updates]*

Book a bat detector button in red with white text

The map below shows the 20 Monitoring Centres across Devon.

Monitoring Centre Map