Going batty

At dusk we took the kids out for a short walk up Shire Hill near the house to watch the bats. We have been seeing them nearly every evening over the last few weeks from the kitchen window as they hunt for insects across the garden, but standing under the trees on the edge of Shire Hill as it went dark, watching them chase insects was quite something. The kids were captivated - it's the first time I've seen them stand stock still and silent (!) for more than a couple of minutes at a stretch.

I'm fairly sure the ones we saw are the most common of UK bats, Pipistrelles. I can think of about four places within 1km of home where you can more-or-less guarantee you will see them, so they do seem to be more common than usual around here. I guess the low-input farming typical of the area with the consequential abundance of insects means that this is a particularly good area for them. If the number of midge bites we all received is an indicator, there is certainly a good supply of food for them!

Until I'd actually seen them in the wild I'd always thought as bats as second-rate flyers, a poor imitation of birds. However, watching their incredibly fast, silent flight with frequent lightning changes in direction completely changed my misconceptions. Seemingly they can eat up to 3000 insects per night, and may live for up to 16 years. Not bad going for something the same weight as a 2p coin!

Yay for the mammals!