Borders Railway bats moved to new roosts

Borders Railway ecology experts set up escape routes for a small group of bats living in a Victorian rail tunnel near Galashiels.

The colony was saved ahead of renovation works on the 165-year-old Bowshank tunnel between Stow and Galashiels, as part of the work on the reopening of the Borders Railway.

The team installed one-way ‘bat flaps’ and ‘bat pipes’ to cavities in the tunnel to allow the bats to leave ahead of works starting in the tunnel.

There were no breeding or hibernation roosts, said the company, but some Soprano pipistrelle and Myotis bats were found to be temporarily residing in spaces, such as those once used by railway workers who sought safety from passing trains.

The bat flaps and pipes were in place for two weeks before the tunnel was fitted with secure doors to prevent bat re-entry and alternative roost sites in the form of bat boxes have been provided in nearby trees, said Borders Railway. It added the boxes are already being used by a small number of bats.

Borders Railway consultant ecologist, Reuben Singleton said bats can use cavities the size of the end of a small matchbox to roost in.

He continued: “We will continue to monitor the tunnel for activity, but these methods will substantially reduce the risk to bats from the works.

“We expect that the bats will continue to use the alternative roost sites provided.”

The work was performed under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.