SIX species of bats have been discovered on the National Trust's Penrose estate including the endangered Greater Horseshoe bat which has established a nursery roost in a disused barn.

There are only about 5,000 individual Greater Horseshoe bats in the UK with the species restricted to the mild climates of south west England and south Wales. This new site is only the fifth, and most southerly, recorded nursery roost in Cornwall and is of national conservation importance.

The discovery was made by Cornwall Environmental Consultants (CEC) Ltd, the trading arm of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. CEC were asked by National Trust to survey the bat populations in buildings around the stables at Penrose. The buildings have been monitored for Lesser Horseshoe bats for many years, but the National Trust needed to gain a full picture of how bats were actually using the buildings. The outcome of these surveys would then determine how to renovate the buildings.

CEC’s senior bat ecologist, Steve Marshall, found at least six species of bats present and more Lesser Horseshoe bats using more buildings across Penrose Estate than had previously been counted. However, the most momentous find is the new Greater Horseshoe nursery roost, an unexpected but exciting result of the survey.

Steve said: “Penrose is a very exciting find. It is fantastic to see such a significant bat species thriving and that the National Trust takes their responsibility to protect them so sincerely. I think they were just as thrilled as I was when we discovered them.”

The National Trust is already putting measures in place to safeguard the roost from disturbance and working with CEC to see how it can be improved for the future. Laura Bailey, area ranger for the National Trust at Penrose, said: “We knew that Greater Horseshoes were using our buildings and old mine workings for hibernation in the winter, but it’s great to know they’re choosing Penrose to raise their young.

"We think the bats were attracted to roost here due to the complex of unused old buildings and the variety of mature woodland, open parkland and Loe Pool; all of which provide a source of insects which the bats feast upon. The Trust manages the land around Loe Pool to try and maximise the wildlife benefit. The building they have been found in will undergo improvements for bats during the winter to encourage them back next summer.”