Our Friends the Bats
The iconic building of Hut 9 has always been an attraction for the curious
given its remote position and its intriguing past, however, this has
also led to its being vulnerable to vandalism. A spate of damage in
2004 left the building with most of the windows smashed. Rather than
keep replacing the glass, the local authority (BCBC) decided to
board the windows up.
Little did they know, that there were others keeping
an eye on Hut 9, because before long the building would be a 'des
res' for a group of 'squatters' who found the new conditions
The bat visitors decided they liked the building so much that they
moved in and have stayed ever since.
Two species of bats, the
Horseshoe, and the
Brown Long-eared bat now roost every year at Hut
They arrive in April and use the building as 'sleeping
accommodation' during the day, leaving every night to forage for
food. They move out in the autumn for hibernation sites elsewhere.
In 2010 it was discovered that several females had
given birth to babies (pups), making the site a maternity roost.
Hut 9 prior to 2004
Hut 9 with
Sadly the UK bat population
has declined dramatically during the past century. Many of the
roosting sites and feeding grounds that they need have been
destroyed to make way for buildings and roads, or other changes in
Pesticides have not only
killed many of their insect prey, but also some of the bats
Now all British bats and their roosts are protected by
law. It is illegal to harm or disturb bats, or deliberately alter
their roost sites without first seeking advice.
Bats are mammals. Like all
other mammals, they have hair or fur on their bodies and are
warm-blooded. A baby bat feeds on its motherís milk for at least a
few weeks after it is born.
Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
A bat's wing has very similar
bones to the hand and arm of a human, with skin stretched between
the very long finger bones and the body to form the wing membrane.
Bats are more closely related
to humans than to mice. There are 18
species of bats living in the UK (17 of which ark now to breed
here). Some of our bat species are very rare, like the greater
mouse-eared, of which there is only one known male recorded.
Brown Long Eared bat in flight (BBC Nature Wildlife)
smallest bat is the pipistrelle, weighing between 4-7g, with a wing
span of 18-25cm. The largest bat is the noctule which can weigh up
to 40g with a wingspan of between 33-45cm. The pipestrelle is the
most common bat in the UK, and is often seen with its fast jerky
flight. It can eat up to 3,000 insects a night!
The copyright of photos is gratefully acknowledged.