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Nature Notes 53

Drawing of pipistrelle bat by Penny Royal

Drawing of pipistrelle bat by Penny Royal

By Penny Royal. Walking through Alexandra Park at dusk, I was pleased to see a bat flitting about in the bosky shadows underneath an oak by the Swannery. These graceful little creatures were an integral part of the dusk forty years ago, a companionable sight as they wheeled and circled close above our heads. It was a shock to learn recently that bats have declined by 90% since then.
I guessed this was a pipistrelle, both from its size and the way it flew, twisting and turning, seemingly erratic. All bat species have different flight patterns, and this helps identify them in the field. Talking to Jenny Clark of the Sussex Bat Hospital, I discovered that bats are very sensitive to human emotions. There is nothing a poorly bat likes better than to snuggle up to a warm, friendly, relaxed body! But to safeguard our remaining bats, those who handle them must have a licence. Jenny says that in today’s frenetic world it is very difficult to find people who are calm and relaxed enough to warrant being given one.

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