By Michael Blencowe
People and Wildlife Officer
We've been reporting on some ground-breaking bat research that is being undertaken at Rye Harbour nature reserve focused on the Nathusius’ pipistrelle.
(You can read the original blogs here: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/pip-pip-pip-hooray and here https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/eclipse-and-the-pips)
Relatively little is known about the Nathusius’ pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii) in Britain but recent research has shown that, unusually, this bat is strongly migratory. Studies carried out on the Continent suggest that populations in NE Europe head SW each winter. When I joined the research team at Rye Harbour a few weeks back they were fixing lightweight rings to the bats trapped on the reserve in the hope that someday, somewhere someone would find 'their' bats and we would learn more about their migration.
The odds of these ringed bats being recaptured must be astronomical – after all it’s a big world and these are tiny mammals. Nevertheless bat expert Daniel Hargreaves had already struck lucky when a Nathusius’ pipistrelle he had ringed in Bristol was found an impressive 370 miles away in The Netherlands.
(Nathusius' pipistrelle at Rye Harbour. Photo by Roger Jones)
On 10th October Daniel was back at Rye Harbour and was joined again by East Sussex bat experts Sally-Ann Hurry and Roger Jones. The team set up their equipment and started to survey the Nathusius’ bats they caught.
Incredibly one of the Nathusius’ pipistrelles they caught already had a ring on its wing – someone, somewhere had already captured this bat and fitted the tiny metal identity tag to it. The code SA4722 was printed on the ring and it wasn’t long until they discovered where this bat had originated from.
The bat had flown all the way from Latvia!
On August 20th 2015 this young male Nathusius' pipistrelle had been caught and ringed near Pape in south-west Latvia. Now here it was 50 days later in East Sussex; 905 miles away!
This discovery at Rye Harbour has really thrown light onto the migration of this incredible bat. Congratulations to Daniel, Sally and Roger.
Now, if you’d just catch one from NE England I could finally get to use my ‘Bat out of Hull’ blog title.