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Bat’s amazing – our Estate is a rich location for rare colonies

Bat’s amazing – our Estate is a rich location for rare colonies

Our Estate is one of the richest bat locations in Oxfordshire, supporting at least 12 of the UK’s 17 resident species. Bats recorded in a recent survey include the rare Barbastelle, Lesser Horseshoe and Nathusius’s Pipistrelle and it is estimated there are hundreds of these flying mammals living across the Estate.

The bats occupy the wide variety of habitats on our Estate, from the historic parkland and  woodland to the lake and farmland. Bats make use of the numerous buildings and structures including the Seven Arches Bridge, Flagstaff Gate – and in secret rooms underneath the magnificent Grand Bridge, which is home to a colony of Daubenton’s bat, including around 60 breeding females.

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We have long-standing partnership with the Oxfordshire Bat Group who have installed bat boxes to encourage roosting in the Grand Bridge and the Ice House, to improve hibernation and summer roosting conditions.

As part of our long-standing commitment to maintain and restore the historic buildings and landscape across our Estate, we have worked closely with the award-winning ecology consultancy BSG Ecology to identify and monitor the rare bat colonies, which has involved the ecologists abseiling down the Grand Bridge with miniature endoscope cameras. Over the last 10 years, BSG Ecology has developed a good understanding of the bats of the Palace, which has helped us to plan in advance how best to work with bats on each new restoration project.

Dr Peter Shepherd, director at BSG Ecology, commented:

"Blenheim Estate is such a rich environment and has a wonderful range of habitats – it has the perfect combination of woodland, water and parkland – for the bats it’s like building a dream home in the middle of Waitrose. Blenheim Estate is doing a lot for bats – protecting the roosts in the Grand Bridge, the Grotto and the Palace itself – and its good land management and the restoration of the Queen Pool will also improve bat foraging habitats."

The bat species identified to date at Blenheim Palace are:

  • Nathusius’s Pipistrelle
  • Barbastelle
  • Lesser Horseshoe
  • Daubenton’s
  • Common Pipistrelle
  • Soprano Pipistrelle
  • Leisler’s
  • Noctule
  • Brown Long-eared
  • Natterer’s
  • Serotine
  • Whiskered