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Bat Surveying with a Thermal Camera. Bats and Thermal Imaging

Bat Surveying with a Thermal Camera

Bat Surveys, Emergence Bat Survey

Bat Surveying and Thermal Camera’s 

Cherryfield Ecology has been using a thermal imaging camera over the last few months of the bat survey season. This is a supplementary technique to standard surveying techniques were personnel are positioned around a structure to watch for bats emerging and re-entering.

The thermal camera gives the user the ability to see ‘in the dark’ thus allowing bats to be seen in complete darkness.

The thermal camera Cherryfield has been using is a FLIR one. These retail at £189.00 to £200 (+VAT) from Amazon or Apple stores and is a reasonable priced bit of kit compared with FLIR’s other offerings.

It plugs into the lighting connector on an ipad or iphone. It is self powered and therefore allows the two devices to be used without massive battery drain. On a full charge the FLIR one will last approx. 1.5hrs to 2hrs which is just enough to record a full bat survey session on a standard emergence survey.

There is also an IR element to the system which highlights buildings and other objects giving a nice outline to the image, if desired.

Although the FLIR one is clearly not one of the best thermal cameras on the market it is affordable.  it is easy to carry, store and use, making an excellent addition to the bat surveying armoury.

In use:

I have found that compared to an IR set-up using the thermal in an external environment is much better. This is more to do with the fact it doesn’t require large bulky additional IR lighting. Although there are other advantages such as the field of view and ease of use. Internally I would opt for the IR set-up as this can be set-up at the beginning of the survey and then left running, requiring little input, whereas the thermal can be switched on and off as desired with the touch of a button.

I have also found it useful for quick sweeps of an external area of building e.g. checking an opening or looking for ‘hot spots’ under hung tile for instance.


All in all the FLIR one is a useful tool when bat surveying. it is quick to use, stores well, has its own battery and is convenient. The current camera is a little poor compared to other FLIR’s, however it does the job and for the cost is a must when bat surveying.

If you you need a bat survey feel free to contact Cherryfield Ecology for a free quote.