a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A barbastelle in the atelier


I suppose we should have realised from the time of year that we could be receiving a visit from our friendly Barbastelle bat (see https://afrenchgarden.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/many-happy-returns/ and https://afrenchgarden.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/a-furry-visitor/).  We have been looking around the front shutters but when Kourosh went out to collect some logs from the outbuilding the other day he felt a bat fly around his head and he noticed where it settled.  The bat is quite small with a body about six centimetres long so I have marked the spot where he roosted on the wall at the corner of the joists as that is not visible from the closer photograph.


We are not sure whether it is the same bat that comes every year but in view of all the rain we have been having this looks like a much better choice of roost.  It looked very cosy between the outside wall and a supporting bean of the mezzanine deck.  Much drier than behind a shutter!

However, I note from the book “Le Guide des Chauve-souris en Poitou-Charentes” by Olivier Prévost (2004) that small colonies have been found behind the shutters of abandoned houses.  Another place that they use frequently is the lintel space on doors of barns.

France is fortunate to have representants of thirty one of the forty one European species of bats.  The Barbastelle is a threatened species if viewed on a European basis but not rare in this area.  However, they have a tendency to move around and shift their roosts depending on weather conditions so they are not easy for researchers to keep an eye on.  They are also found sheltering in the abandoned quarries of Poitou-Charente.

It eats mainly moths of the type that would be found flying in dry leaves and litchens in wooded areas and its natural roosting spot can be presumed to be cracks in trees.

Barbastelle in atelier

So the Barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus) is not just a pretty face but an important link in the health of the European forests.

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.

34 thoughts on “A barbastelle in the atelier

  1. So good to see you have a resident bat-they are so important.


  2. Hello Amelia,
    Maybe he/she feels at home right there, having found a kindred wind surfing spirit?
    Best wishes


  3. That’s quite a pretty bat. We have Pipistrelles here that fly and hunt after sunset and through the night – though it’s not warm enough for them yet.


  4. I know a barn where hundreds of bats roost but I don’t know their species. They’re good to have around. It cuts down on our mosquito population.


  5. What a sweet face. Seems like it would be simple to provide additional roosts with flat boxes and false shutters here and there.


  6. We didn’t get any Barbastelle this year on our annual hibernating bat survey. We recorded more individual bats, but fewer species than last year. Hopefully a bigger bat like a Barbastelle cope with the disturbance of people coming in to get logs. With small bats or the easily disturbed species like Horseshoes it might be a problem — every time they fly it reduces their overwintering survival rate immensely. Where your Barbie has chosen is a typical hibernation roost. Behind the shutters would be a summer roost choice.

    I’ve been keeping up to date with the unfolding Zika epidemic because I’m on an entomological listserve. One of the interesting comments that has come out of the discussion is that bats eat far fewer mosquitoes than is popularly believed. Mostly they go for moths.


    • According to the book I mentioned above, the Barbastelles in this region move around in the winter and change position and they rarely find them again when they try to recheck the roosts. We rarely have a long spell of very cold temperatures. Interesting about the moths and I had never realised how important bats could be to the health of forests by keeping the insects that damage trees in check. Amelia


  7. Interesting post Amelia, we used to regularly spot bats in the evenings here or at least have that sudden awareness they are swooping close by but rarely see one now.


  8. Excellent. What a nice (out) house guest. Dave


  9. Cute bat, glad you can give it a home


  10. Very good to be able to observe wildlife at such close range!


  11. What a wonderful thing to find.


  12. OOOO Barbs, you lucky girl. I am a trustee for my local bat group involved in surveying, injured bat care etc in Lancashrie – we don’t get barbastelle this far north. Instead we make for bedfordshrie to get our barb fix. Amazing little creatures


    • It must be very fulfilling being able to do your bit for the bats. I’ve always liked them but I never thought of how important they are for the environment. Amelia


      • Yes, they are massively important for the environment. They save millions of pounds for agricultural farmers by managing pests, pollinate, disperse seeds and are generally awesome..amongst other things.

        Nothing makes me happier than nursing a little bat back to health and releasing it into the wild.

        I look forward to hearing more stories about your visiting barbastelle 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful tourist you got here..
    Our bats, are usually spotted flying around the street lights, doing there daily take out meals there….It is fascinating to view there flights …I will have to investigate the speicies of bat these are…thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Do bats sunbathe? | a french garden

  15. What a wonderful picture! Look at that gorgeous face! Barbastelles are rare in the UK, so that would be a bit special here.

    31 species! Only 18 over here, and they took me a while to learn when I started bat care. I still wouldn’t be able to identify the majority of them, but I’m learning slowly.


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