Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bats in our Uckfield garden

As it's coming up to Halloween, I thought it would be a good time to talk about bats.

On a fine summer evening, we often see bats swooping and diving in front of our house. I think these are pipistrelles. The Bat Conservation Trust tells us:

"Common pipistrelle is one of the UK's most common bat species. It is a small bat which is found in a wide range of habitats including farmland, woodlands and suburban and urban habitats. It often roosts in crevices around the outside of houses and buildings.

The Collins Fields Guide - Mammals of Britain and Europe says:

Habits: "Leave roost c. 20 mins (2-35 mins) after sunset" and "Active at feeding sites for up to 8 hours."
Food: "Small insects caught and eaten in flight: main food is midges and caddis flies ..."
Breeding: "Births in June-Mid July."
Lifespan: "Max recorded 16 years 7 months."
Measurements: "Head-body length: av. 36-51mm." and "Wingspan: 180-240mm."

I've seen them on warm evenings from March to October. On October the 18th this year, at 6:15pm, there was a pretty flush in the early evening sky and 3 bats were swooping overhead, guzzling up pesky midges and other insects.
Sketch - 5th August 2005.
I've often seen the local cats watching the bats. You can see their frustration as they stalk but cannot catch these unreachable flying mice.

Sadly one long-eared bat was not so unreachable. I found its body on the path one day, presumably killed by a cat.

Long-eared bat - 19th Aug 2006.

The Bat Conservation Trust tells us:

"The brown long-eared bat is a medium-sized bat with ears almost as long as the body. It flies close to vegetation or in woodland, often using its large ears to listen for prey sounds and gleaning insects from the surface of foliage. It eats mainly moths, beetles, flies, earwigs and spiders."

I once saw one almost creeping round the trees in our garden searching for its food.

The Collins Fields Guide - Mammals of Britain and Europe says:

Habits: "Generally emerges in dark."
Food: "Insects, mainly moths ..."
Breeding: "Births in June and July."
Lifespan: "Max recorded 22 years."
Measurements: "Head-body length: av. 37-53mm." and "Wingspan: 240-285mm."

It notes that their "Habit of landing on the ground makes them vulnerable to predators."

The RHS has some advice about attracting bats to your garden.

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