Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Pipistrelle flies 2,500km to show bats can match birds as long-distance travellers

22:37, 8 AUG 2016
UPDATED 23:01, 8 AUG 2016

Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Conwy reveals what birds have been spotted in the past week and where to go birding in the coming days

Despite their diminutive size, some bat species are now known to travel immense distances
Attaching tiny, numbered aluminium bands to their legs has taught us much about birds’ migration and longevity over the last century.

In recent years, bat-workers have copied the approach and over the weekend, a Nathusius’ Pipistrelle was found in north Kent that had been ringed in Lithuania, 2,500km to the east.
When we recorded a Nathusius’ Pipistrelle at RSPB Conwy for the first time last year, I have to confess I had to research the species.

When I was a kid, there was just a single Pipistrelle Bat species in Britain, which a few years ago was “split” into two species based on their ultrasonic calls; the higher-pitched one is named the Soprano Pipistrelle.

Until the 1990s, the Nathusius was considered a rare visitor to Britain, but more records in the last 20 years was followed by proven breeding, and individuals have since made it to Ireland, and back across the North Sea to the Netherlands.

This week’s record from eastern Europe shows that bats, weighing as little as six grammes, can cross the Baltic and North Seas, just as equally-tiny Goldcrests do each winter.

More studies will surely tell us more about whether such bat journeys are regular, perhaps even predictable, as bird migration has proved.

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