Bat numbers have declined over the last hundred years due to human pressures such as habitat loss and fragmentation, roost destruction, insecticide use and increased lighting.
Thanks to legal protection of bat roosts since 1981, the work of local bat groups and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), a few UK species are showing recoveries, but a lot of work is still necessary to ensure a safe future for all our species.
Bats are the only mammals with powered flight. Their wings are modified hands with a membrane stretched across four elongated fingers. This allows highly manoeuvrable flight, a huge advantage that has enabled bats to spread to every continent except Antarctica and to evolve into more than 1,000 species.
Being nocturnal, many species use a highly sophisticated sonar system to navigate and locate prey in the dark. Known as echolocation this involves emitting high-pitched calls several times per second and listening for the echoes, which produce “sound pictures” of the surroundings.
Seventeen species are known to breed in the UK, all are insectivores and between them, they feed on a variety of insects including midges, mosquitoes, moths and beetles.
Nine species of bat have been identified on Ham Lands: Common pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, Soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton’s bat, Leisler’s bat, Noctule, Serotine, Brown long-eared bat, Natterer’s bat.
You can find out more on this factsheet habitatsandheritage.org.uk/Bats.