Introducing Cathryn! - Argyll and Inner Hebrides Project Officer
Cathryn Baillie, Species on the Edge Project Officer for Argyll and the Inner Hebrides, Bat Conservation Trust
Hi! I’m Cathryn and I work for the Bat Conservation Trust. Based on the Isle of Skye, I’m one of four project officers in the Argyll and Inner Hebrides project area. I became aware of Species on the Edge during the development year of the programme when I was approached to help make local connections. When the position of Project Officer was advertised last year, the timing was right for me, so I took the opportunity to apply to be a part of this exciting, new project. While I grew up on Skye and I love the place and its people, I didn’t actually know all that much about bats at the time! However, I landed the role, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend my time connecting with the local communities through our amazing natural heritage. It has been a steep learning curve for me, but the Bat Conservation Trust have been an amazing host, making sure I have everything I need to do the job.
One of my first tasks was to establish a monitoring programme for bats on Skye. Historically there are very few records, and we don’t even know for sure how many species are present here. So, as well as trying to raise awareness of bats and the programme in general, I have spent many a night being eaten alive by midges in the name of science! I’ve encountered lots of pipistrelles almost everywhere I have looked, which is encouraging, but I’ve been really keen to try and record some of our more elusive species like Daubenton’s and brown long-eared bats. So far, my in-person surveys haven’t yielded much diversity, although I did finally manage to record one brown long-eared bat at a site less than a mile from home – very exciting! But I am hopeful that our passive acoustic monitoring work will offer us some valuable insight into bat populations on Skye – results of which will be coming soon!
I’ve organised several events now, mostly bat walks for the public, and each time I’m nervous that no one will turn up. However, the response has been fantastic and I have loved being able to witness the excitement as people hear their very first bat! A couple of participants have even gone on to buy their own bat detector and signed up to the National Bat Monitoring Programme - you can’t ask for more than that!
Cathryn Baillie is a Species on the Edge Project Officer for Argyll and the Inner Hebrides employed by Bat Conservation Trust and based on the Isle of Skye