29th January 2020

Obituary: Tony Lane – Passionate about bats

Tony with Philip Moodie (in the background) with members of the bat group on a flower identification training day

Tony Lane, founder of East Yorkshire Bat Group, sadly died in December 2019 at home with Sue (Tony’s wife) and family by his side. Tony’s passion for bats began in the 1980’s after visiting a friend Marion Williamson. Marion, who worked a lot with Phil Richardson of the Northants bat group, had a brown long-eared in care and it was this that got Tony hooked on the wonderful world of these night flying mammals.

Following on from this wonderous encounter with the brown long-eared, Tony and Sue travelled over to Harrogate to train with Ron Deaton. Tony successfully obtained his bat handling licence and subsequently his trainers’ licence. Tony had an open meeting in Beverley to see if there would be enough interest in getting an East Yorkshire Bat group started. In 1990 the group was established. Both Philip and Jenny Moodie came along to the first meeting and never looked back. They were also instrumental in getting the group up and running by also gaining their handlers licences and supporting Tony in training others.

Very early on of the establishment of the group, Tony, Sue, Philip and Jenny undertook a bat ringing exercise in several woodlands to help understand what species were present and to understand their habitat requirements. We are still finding Tony’s ringed bats to this day. Two years ago we had a bat that was at least 19 years old.

Obituary: Tony Lane – Passionate about bats

Tony at Allerthorpe Woods explaining the bone structure of a noctule wing and pointing out ectoparasites.

Tony being a true academic continued to learn about bats and had several pieces published, and most excitingly Tony reported in The Naturalist that we had our first Leisler bat in East Yorkshire. The bat was found on 18th June 1990. After a short period of rehab the bat was successfully released back to the location it was found.

Below are memories from our current members on their first encounters with Tony;

Bev Hylton – Committee Member

I met Tony shortly after bat group was formed, and it wasn't too long before he'd recruited me onto the committee and chair. Tony was my trainer, so I joined him on many roost visits. We led many bat walks together over the years. Tony was so very kind and generous in sharing his extensive knowledge with us all. He devoted much time and energy in ensuring that local bat conservation was strong and would endure. I have great memories of working with Tony over the years and will miss him. His legacy will definitely continue here with the group

Melanie Metcalf-Thompson - Chair

When writing about Tony I think all of us have very fond memories of being trained by him. My particular fun memory is of his long-dead horseshoe bat specimen that he gave me to examine on his kitchen table. As I handled it and measured it's wings it was shedding bits all over, at which point Sue came in and told Tony off for having it on the table where they ate! Another memory is of a day Tony and I spent caving in South Yorkshire, looking for bats with a local group. All was going well until we realised that we had to cross a fast-flowing river by walking along a fallen tree which had been set across the river to aid crossing. I can't swim so I was horrified at this suggestion but Tony helped me across by holding my hand and slowly guiding me across. I have known Tony for 21 years and it has been a pleasure.

Claire Storey – Secretary

I went along to one of the bat box checks at Millington Woods and told Tony that I was interested in getting involved with the group and bat conservation. Tony took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to know to become a volunteer bat roost visitor. One of my first visits as a trainee VBRV was to my local church where I knew that they had some issues with droppings and urine. Tony and I inspected different parts of the church including the bell tower. I told Tony that I had not seen any bats but lots of droppings. ‘Are you sure you looked everywhere’ Tony responded. I think I did, I replied. Tony pointed to a picture on a wall…….’have another look around there’ was the response. Low and behold a common pipistrelle was tucked in behind the frame. I use this memory to aid me in all my work in the world of bats. Patience and enthusiasm were the essence of Tony. I will miss him very much.

The interest in bats was not his only passion. Tony enjoyed walking in woodlands, identifying flowers, birds and galls with his wife Sue. It is this that Tony found most difficult to cope with towards the end of his illness.

Tony’s biggest achievement and thrill was the bat group reaching 25 years of operating. It is with pride that we can continue to keep the group going in Tony’s memory. The bat group have a training fund pot and we will be renaming this to the Tony Lane Training Fund.

Written by Claire Storey, EYBG Secretary.