Posted 22nd Aug 2017 by Peter Byrne
Lead image courtesy of Frank Greenwood / Sussex Wildlife Trust
When dusk falls on a late summer's evening, swallows will go to their roosts under the eaves, while swifts will be making one last screaming sortie over the rooftops before heading up high to dose the night away
As the light thickens, the last robin will sing his song. Then, it's the time for the bat.
Unseen and unnoticed by many, the countryside will fill up with nocturnal insectivores, fluttering out to feed for the night. Pipistrelles will flit over the garden, while brown long-eared bats will swoop along the hedgerows. Daubenton's bats will skim over the river, noctules hawk high up above the canopy.
Bats find their way around by echolocation, through a series of very high pitched clicks and burps and listening out for the echoes that bounce off their surroundings and their prey. This may not be audible to the human ear, but we can use a special bat detector to listen to the echolocation calls of bats.
Each species will have its own characteristic pattern and frequency of calls. The pitter patter of a calling pipistrelle turns into a buzzing burp as it closes in on its moth meal, while a noctule shouts 'chop chip chop chip' as he swoops over the tree tops.
How to do it
The best way to discover more about bats is in the company of an expert. Check your Wildlife Trust's website for bat walks and other batty events, where you will be able to use a bat detector and learn more about their lives. International Bat Night takes place during the last weekend in August. Put up a bat box and give them a helping hand in your garden! The location is all important: nail it up on a sheltered sunny spot, high up under the eaves if it’s on a building and preferably away from outside lights. Buy one or make one. Take part in this year's bat-themed Wild About Gardens Week!
Enjoy watching bats swooping at the cave entrances at Brown’s Folly whilst overlooking the lovely Bath skyline at dusk. Take a bat detector and listen out for the bizarre alien ‘space invader’ noises of the nationally threatened greater horseshoe bat, famous for its unusual leaf-shaped nose and large ears, just one of the species found here.
Angus, Montrose Basin
Cambridge, River Cam - join a special bat punt safari!
Channel Islands, Alderney
Derbyshire, Hilton Gravel Pits
Devon, Higher Kiln Quarry
Dorset, Brackett’s Coppice
Essex, Hanningfield Reservoir - hundreds of soprano pipistrelles roost in the centre and can be seen emerging on late summer evenings. Events are run to enjoy the spectacle.
Gwynedd, Gwaith Powdwr
Lancashire, Aughton Woods
Lanarkshire, Falls of Clyde
Yorkshire, Sprotbrough Flash
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts