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.

Atelier

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.

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34 thoughts on “A barbastelle in the atelier

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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    • 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

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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

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      • 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 🙂

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  5. 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.

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

  7. 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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