Batty August

August is always a busy month in the bat worker’s calendar; with juvenile bats on the wing and maternity colonies breaking up, suddenly there seem to be many more bats around and it’s all change at roost sites with bats to-ing and fro-ing all over the place.  Adult bats in full breeding condition will be gathering at swarming sites ready to find a mate and swarming surveys usually start mid-month.  And I’ve taken part in lots of bat work this month to see what they are all up to.

One happy Wednesday evening, I counted brown long-eared bats at Manchester Airport with Cheshire Bat Group; always a pleasure to participate in this long-term survey project.  Visit Cheshire Bat Group on Facebook to find out more and join our email group.

I was given a bat to look after by a colleague from Cheshire Bat Group – a member of the public had found him on the ground outside their home.  He turned out to be a lively and uninjured juvenile pipistrelle who presumably had just messed up his maiden flight and needed a good feed and a drink before going home to his roost mates. Here he is in his towel cocoon waiting for his next mealworm…

p5100_1604 (800x600)I arrived at the house well before sunset ready to release him and was expecting to have plenty of time to chat with the homeowners beforehand, but the second I got the bat out of the van, several bats emerged from the house in broad daylight!  I can only imagine he must have recognised where he was and started calling for his roost mates, although quite how they heard him inside the roost is anybody’s guess.  Anyway, we dashed round the back of the house where there was a nice big lawn and let him go.  He flew off beautifully and showed off by circling the garden several times before flying off with the other bats towards a local pond.  It was a marvellous moment 😀

I’ve also been harp trapping and mist netting four times in August at various sites around Cheshire and South Lancashire, in search of Nathusius pipistrelles.  We still have not caught a female this year, which is something of a disappointment as we had been hoping to radio track a female in an attempt to find maternity roosts of this species.  Nathusius pipistrelle is a widespread but rare species and while we have records of Nathusius pip from all over the place, we don’t have many records of maternity roosts.  Nevertheless, it is always nice to catch a male Nathusius pip and it all adds to our knowledge of this species and its habits.

Here is a picture of two Daubenton’s bats – one an adult, and one a free flying juvenile:

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Juveniles are pretty much up to adult size at this time of year, although they do look slightly different in the hand if you know what to look for.

And finally, the obligatory moody atmospheric picture of a lake, as all our trapping sites for this year are by lakes……..

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