Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bats are back

safely tucked up behind one of our shutters
Another really nice sign of spring having arrived, which we noticed this week, is that our bats are back in their summer roost - two of our shutters. We're no experts, but after some research last year we are 99% that they are pipestrelles [whether soprano or common we don't know].

Pretty tiny in size, these are a very common bat; nevertheless like all bats they are a protected species. So as much as we'd love to have a good photo of them we've resisted folding out the shutters. We don't want to distrub them if we can help it. This morning we, oh so gently, cracked the shutter open a tiny bit and took a very quick photo. A better photograph is courtesy of Tees Valley biodiversity's website [below].

droppings evidence last summer
They use two of our shutters as summer roosts and we have on average 2 to 3, but never more than 4. They don't roost behind them every day but they are pretty regular haunts. We can tell by the droppings we find.

One of the shutters they use is the right-sided one on our south-facing living room window. If we're sitting out there as dusk falls with an aperitif chances are we'll have our heads skimmed by the bats as they leave to feed.

Apart from being rather cute they do sterling service as insect control, an average pipestrelle devours about 3,000 flying insects a night [small gnats, moths or mosquitos].
tiny pipestrelle bat

Of course, they are also of interest to our cats as we wrote about here. Looking at it from their point of view the bats are no more than entertaining 'mices with wings'. Thankfully, over the course of last summer, the bats have seemed to have learnt to roost higher up between the shutter and the wall where the exploratory paw can't reach, so we did not have a repeat of the bat saving exercise of April! Hopefully we won't have to go into bat saving mode this year either.

16 comments:

Jean said...

Ah....I can't wait to be sitting on our terrace in the early evening when the swallows go to bed and the Grand-Pressigny bat formation team come out to play.....

the fly in the web said...

They lived behind our shutters too...and up in the roof space.
In the evenings you could sit on the terrace and watch flights of them emerging for their nocturnal fly past...

We have them here too, living in the bodega...and unfortunately also have vampire bats living in a cave by the river - we're unable to knock them off because of blasted ecologists who don't have to live with their depredations.

Riet said...

That is really interesting. Happy spring is coming.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean we love watching flit about on a summer's evening.

BTW Are you over for Easter? If so email us so we can arrange something.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Helen - the vampires feed on the cattle and horses don't they? Do you suffer badly? Is it the actual blood they take or the diseases they carry? I've seen footage of them; they're like monsterous mosquitoes.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Riet - yes it's lovely spring is here although today was a bit of shock: 11C instead of the 22C we had yesterday. So the weather is yo-yoing about a bit.

Perpetua said...

Glad they're back to carry on the good work. Thankfully we have them at our French house too, but I don't know where they roost as we have very few shutters. Probably in the roof-space or the upstairs bit of the woodshed.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

We have bats in the roof but I would not be happy about them using the shutters as we close them every night.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - we have a woodshed and lovely barn full of rafters for them to hang from but they choose the shutters for some reason.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@LindyLou - we only really use the shutters in the winter if is properly cold so are happy to leave them open in warmer weather.

wcs said...

I love the bats on summer evenings. We have our share as well, but I've never found a roost. There are all manner of places for them around here, so our house is probably not too attractive to them. :)

GaynorB said...

Interesting post. I'm pretty certain that we have some in our attic space.
I like the notion of the number of insects they feed on. Just where do they put them all?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Walt - why they choose the shutters when there's the woodshed and the barn is a mystery; but we too love seeing them flit about.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - LOL know what you mean! The bats are tiny so where do they stuff all these --admittedly even smaller-- insects?!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
We are fine with bats as long as they stay outdoors and do not venture in!!

When we lived in Herefordshire bats lived in our roof. The cats would regularly drag baby bats indoors and the sight of 'ink blots' on the carpet always had us screaming. Once in, they were notoriously difficult to encourage to go back out!

But, as you say, bats do sterling work in the garden with pest control and they are amazing to watch as they fly at night.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - when we lived in Maastricht one of our then cats brought a bat in. It was a bit of a hoo-ha to get it back outdoors.