Go batty over shy creatures
I LIKE a good mystery, although I am quite old school and don’t think that you need Sherlock Holmes to fall off a building and come back to life just to keep you interested.
There was much excitement in our office recently when three bats were spotted in the porch of a house close by.
Bats are notoriously shy and difficult to photograph but these three were right there at the top of the porch in full view.
They were about 12 feet up – it was a high porch – but seeing them out of their usual roosts was a thrill to say the least.
According to Fiona, the homeowner, they had been flying around fairly regularly but returning to snuggle up together in during daylight hours.
I managed to get some pictures but I didn’t want to get to get too close to spook the little fellows – I am also not keen on perching halfway up a ladder and leaning back to get a good shot.
We had spoken to our bat experts and they suggested that these would be young pipistrelles which hadn’t quite gotten used to being a bat.
Most bats will roost in crevices in buildings or even behind bark on a tree.
It’s amazing how small a space they can squeeze into.
Anyway the pictures told us something different and muddied the waters in our great bat mystery. Experts believed that the bats were either whiskered or Brandts, but they couldn’t really tell either way.
While I am no expert I thought I could make my own enquiries and that was when I realised I would have problems.
Up to 1970 most people believe that Brandts and whiskered bats were the same species!
The whiskered bat is small bat, not as long as my thumb (about 45mm) with a dark grey or brown shaggy coat.
It has golden tips on its back and grey on its stomach.
The Brandts is slightly larger with a pinker face and a paler grey belly.
Whiskered bats hunt for moths and small insects around headgerows while Brandts can be seen flying low in woodland and over water.
Brandts can live longer than any other bats, up to 41 years, which is pretty amazing.
Both species are pretty rare, with around 64,000 whiskered and 30,000 Brandts in the United Kingdom.
The bats in the porch were definitely furry and had lovely little faces but what looked like very sharp teeth.
They were probably too young to identify just yet.
I do get to see some amazing sights in my line of work but I felt pretty privileged to get so close to these exceptional creatures.
If you are interested in bats, there are plenty of bat walks around the region at the moment.
●● Bats have been spotted hanging in the porch of a nearby house