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A new resident or a visitor? Geoffroy's bat in Britain

12 December 2013

 

Geoffroy's bat (myotis emarginatus) is a European forest specialist, found across swaithes of mainland Europe. Not until recently has the species been found in the UK. 

This forest bat forages in dense, deciduous woodland and in areas of scrub. Cattle sheds and stables are a favourite foraging location in Europe where it gleans insects from the walls. It is a medium sized bat with long woolly rusty to reddish brown fur on the dorsal side (its back) and a paler underside. Quite similar at first glance to a Natterer's bat, they can be identified by a distinctive notch on the ears. 

This September,  Jim Mullholland, of Avon Bat Group found a bat he and other observers believe to be a Geoffroy's bat. Currently they are awaiting DNA confirmation of their find. The bat was found in Brown's folly - far from the coast. 

Jim Mullholland thinks that finding the bat, which is typically a bat not known for travelling long distances, is evidence suggesting we may have a resident species to add to our list.  "Not only is it the second record for the UK, but being so far inland makes it less easy to dismiss as a vagrant" he said. 

This builds on the discovery in 2012 and again in 2013 of another individual, confirmed as a Geoffroy's bat, made by Daniel Whitby in Sussex. Daniel  has now ringed the individual he found and will be looking for more! In his image above you can see the distinctive ears of the bat.

Daniel says, "the second record of this easily misidentified species is of real interest and I encourage all bat workers to familiarise themselves with the identification features to ensure that further records are not misidentified, with a bit of luck we will identify some females and have a new breeding species confirmed for the UK."

BCT welcome these discoveries, and will monitor the situation with interest. It is too early to tell whether we have a visiting species or a new resident to add to our native species list.  

To read more you can click through to media coverage on the BBC and The Daily Mail.

 Find out more about Geoffroy's bat in the November 2013 edition of Bat News available to the members of the Bat Conservation Trust.

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