Go batty over shy creatures

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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

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