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