a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A furry visitor


Front door

This is the shutter of our front door which is left in the open position practically all the time.  However, my husband has a tendency to glance behind it when he passes by.

Bat on wall

He did that on the 14 March last year and found a bat clasping onto the wall behind the shutter.

Bat on wall 2

It was a bit of a change from the usual lizards that hide there!  He stayed there for a few days but I have no idea what kind of bat he is.

Open shutter

Today (21.2.2014) there was another bat.  This time on the shutter itself.

Black bat

Black bats are difficult to photograph but at least he stayed still.

Close up Barbastelle bat

Looking closer he has got a cute face.

Barbastelle bat mouth open

Is he trying to tell me something here?

Barbastelle bat close up I noticed that he had a strange indentation on the outside of his ear flap and I wondered if it had been bitten.  When I tried to identify him I saw a picture of a Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus) that had the same marking on the ear.  Can anyone help out with an identification?

Bat back viewHe measures 6 centimetres from front to back and has an incredibly furry coat.  He has five toes – just like us!

I don’t think our last year’s bat is the same species so he still stays an unidentified visitor.

I’ve put a watermark on these photographs.  Do you think it is pretentious?

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

38 thoughts on “A furry visitor

  1. While not a great chance, but are you concerned with rabies? What little I know of bats, they are not diurnal unless something’s wrong.

    Then again, as I said, I’m not an expert.

    As for the watermark, not pretentious, and the one you have is a bit small. I’m sure you’ve noticed mine, and I also Digimarc the images so that I have a chance of finding out if anyone is copying and passing them off without my permission or giving me credit.

    Lots of unscrupulous people out there.


  2. I don’t think putting a watermark is pretentious , I do on all mine mainly because I enter some in competitions, But I’m happy for folk to copy them …


  3. I was also going to mention the rabies aspect , one of the uk’s top bat experts died of rabies after forgetting to wear gloves while handling a bat.


  4. It’s lovely to have bat visitors. Though not to handle, but just to capture an image, I think is not unsafe. And nor is it pretentious to watermark your photos. They are your property, though you are generous enough to share them. It’s wise to protect one’s rights.


  5. I think he’s adorable !! I wish we had some here…


  6. I think they are both Barbastelles because the ears meet above the head. The only other bat that has that character is the Long-eared, and the ears don’t look long enough to me on the first one. The second one shows another character for Barbastelles, which is the virtually black pelt with pale tips to the hairs. The size is right too.

    With regard to rabies: France has been declared officially rabies free for some years except for flying mammals (ie bats) and no one has died from rabies for decades in France. There was case in France this winter of a stray kitten with rabies and of a dead bat with one of the rabies like viruses. There have also been cases of dogs (usually about one or two a year) all of which have been animals illegally imported, usually from North Africa.

    You should always handle bats with gloves just in case and be aware that if they excrete anything on to you (saliva, urine, faeces) you are at risk if you ingest it or it gets into a wound. Even if you don’t get rabies you could get septicaemia (a school friend in Australia has just lost all his toes as a result of an encounter with a fruit bat). Bats are fully protected, so you should not be handling them or disturbing them unless it is an emergency. Your local licenced bat workers are always happy to come out and give advice or assistance and can be contacted via any of the well known nature conservation organisations eg the LPO or the Conservatoire.

    If you feel you have been exposed to rabies so long as you get the vaccination shot before symptoms develop you will be fine. You have at least 48 hours to get medical attention — it’s not like snakebite. However, once symptoms develop rabies is always fatal.

    There — that’s cheered you up no end, hasn’t it 🙂


    • I must be honest and admit I hadn’t thought about rabies but I had no intention of handling him anyway. It would be still better to be over cautious, though, if the event presents itself. Now I understand the risks more clearly. Thanks for the ID – I had a feeling you might know. The first bat was not a long-eared. A friend saw the first one and we hesitated over the Barbastelle but dismissed it as it is not so common. I would imagine that there is a roost of Barbastelle near here. Amelia


  7. I’m a big fan of bats, i’d love to see one so closely in the day time.


  8. You have such wildlife in your garden! Gorgeous little critter. I can’t imagine why watermarking your images could be considered pretentious. Cautious, yes, but not pretentious surely. What a curious idea!


    • Thanks for the comment. I don’t mind them being used but I’ve seen them in Google images which just goes to show that you should be cautious about what you find on the Internet because I do not hold myself out to be an expert I’m just making a photographic story of my garden and surrounds. Amelia


  9. I don’t know bats so I can’t help with an identification, but I do know that the do the same thing here. Shutters must be a favorite the world over.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with marking your own property.


    • That’s interesting that shutters are a favourite place for them to roost. You see, in the UK there are virtually no shutters. Try explaining that to French people! “But what do you do when you go to bed at night?” they say. Thanks for the the reply, also. Amelia


  10. I found one of my bee photos on another web site. I mentioned it to them and gave them a “copyrighted” photo which they graciously swapped out. How does the watermark work. I didn’t see it on your photos. Does it only show up when the photo is copied and ‘pasted?’


    • Like you, I would only prefer my work to be acknowledged, I am happy if people use it, especially for educational purposes. I am very keen on people realising that there are a lot more beautiful, important bees out there apart from honey bees.
      I’ve only used it on this last post as I am not a photographer and I do not profess to be one. Thus I felt that using the watermark might seem silly. The consensus seems to be pro watermark so I will keep it.
      I use Picassa to process my pictures which is a free down load. There is a box I can add a watermark when I export my finished, cropped and tidied image. In this last post there is a “afrenchgarden” in the bottom right hand side. Amelia


  11. Could be an evil look..? Eyeing up your neck for a snack. Or is that Transylvania, not rural France?


    • I must admit, in my innocence, I did not think he fancied me as a snack. I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s not here today so he cannot have approved of the attention. Amelia


  12. Quite a find, I wouldn’t have thought about the rabies so if I ever find one it will be a warning to me now. Not pretentious at all.


  13. How delightful to find this little creature attached to your house/shutter. I don’t know much about bats except they are often given a bad rap in the popular imagination. I read on this site http://www.cornwall-batgroup.co.uk/barbastelle.htm that it is the male barbastelle which is solitary ( I was wondering why the bat was alone 🙂 ) When you are recording bees and wildlife so expertly, I think you are completely justified in putting a watermark on your photos.


  14. Great observation of a quite rare bat, and you’re spot on: it’s a barbastelle (Barbastellus barbastella):

    We would welcome your observation at iNaturalist – in fact not only the bat observations, but any observation of living things that you would like to share (and get feed-back on identifications):

    You will retain full control of your copyright there!

    Cheers, Jakob


    • Thank you so much for confirming the observation. I am especially interested in bees but I was unaware of the inaturalist site. It looks a very interesting site and it covers France. I really appreciate the help I receive through my blog. I am trying to learn more about bees and I have started another blog “Bees in a French Garden” to link with people with a similar interest. However, I do not think bees are so well loved or studied as mammals. I might be wrong but this is the impression I get. Thanks again for your help. Amelia


      • Hi Amelia, you’re most welcome! iNaturalist is a general citizen-science project where you will find experts for various groups. If you’re especially interested in bees, you can share observations on iNat and get feed-back on identifications. And your barbastelle bat would be also a great addition!

        Hope to see you there, Jakob


      • Just found this blog site. Very interesting. We have about 50 bats (pipistrelle I think) in the roof of our house in the Landes (south-west France). As I don’t close the shutters in my bedroom at night but sometimes do so in the day when it is very hot, I often find a bat or two hiding behind the shutter. They get a real awakening and fly off, usually to a nearby tree. I suppose they occasionally hide behind the shutters thinking it will be dark all day. But most of the bats fly back into the roof in the early morning just before daybreak. Our cat goes mad watching them swoop into the eves just above the bedroom window. They are lovely and, of course, protected but I must say the smell of bat droppings in the roof does pervade a little into the bedrooms. I love bees too. When the wisteria is in bloom we get enormous black bee-like insects that seem to home in from miles around — as our wisteria is the only one in the middle of the forest.


        • It’s nice to share the house and the garden with the different creatures. It must be interesting sitting in your garden in a summer evening with the bats flying around! We get the black Carpenter bees on our Wisteria too. The Wisteria is not open yet but the Carpenters are around and in the fruit trees and the broad beans. I love the big, black Carpenter bees, the ones we get are Xylocopa violacea. This year they have been helping with the pollination of the plum and apricot trees.


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