Sunday, 20 November 2016

BRITISH BATS: Common pipistrelle

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Watching bats fly around at dusk during the summer nights is a true delight. However this is becoming a rarer sight, as bat populations have suffered severe decline during the past century due to loss of habitat and modern agricultural policies.

There are 18 species of bat in the UK, made up of resident and vagrant species.  British resident breeding species include:

·       Alcathoe bat
·       Barbastelle
·       Bechstein's bat
·       Brandt's bat
·       Brown long-eared bat
·       Common pipistrelle
·       Daubenton's bat
·       Greater horseshoe bat
·       Grey long-eared bat
·       Leisler's bat
·       Lesser horseshoe bat
·       Nathusius' pipistrelle
·       Natterer's bat
·       Noctule
·       Serotine
·       Soprano pipistrelle
·       Whiskered bat

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

Pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species and are the ones that you are most likely to spot flying in the sky catching insects on the wing. There are two pipistrelle species found in the UK, the common and soprano pipistrelle. They were only identified as separate species in the 1990s as the two species look very similar 

Pipistrelles are medium brown in colour, 35-45 mm long with a wingspan of 200 mm. They are busy creatures, and in fact a single pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night. 

They feed in a wide range of habitats comprising woodland, hedgerows, grassland, farmland, suburban and also urban areas. They generally emerge from their roost around 20 minutes after sunset and fly 2-10 m above ground level searching for their insect prey, which they catch and eat on the wing.

Summer roosts of both common and soprano pipistrelles are usually found in crevices around the outside of often newer buildings, such as behind hanging tiles, soffit and barge or eaves boarding, between roofing felt and roof tiles or in cavity walls, although this species also roosts in tree holes and crevices, and also in bat boxes. 

Echolocation Sounds produced by common pipistrelles are above the range of human hearing with the exception of social calls that may be heard by children and some adults with good hearing. With a bat detector the echolocation calls can be picked up between about 45 and 70kHz. 

Populations of pipistrelles pipistrelles have declined dramatically in the last few decades, at least partly as a result of modern agricultural practices, although common pipistrelle populations have started showing signs of recovery in recent years. Their reliance on buildings for roosting makes them vulnerable to building renovations, exclusion and toxic remedial timber treatment chemicals.

Bat boxes
British Bats: Common Pipistrelle
How to make an insect house
Hummingbird hawk moth

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