long-eared bat Phil Gould

The much more common brown long-eared bat (P. Gould)

We’ve got some exciting news!

Another grey long-eared bat roost has been confirmed in East Devon.

As you may have read in our post last year, we found a grey long-eared bat in a roost in East Devon and confirmed the species with DNA analysis. We are pleased that yet another record, some miles away, has been found.

There are thought to be only between 1000 – 3000 grey long-eared bats in the UK. This species is rarely recorded, giving it a very rough population estimate. There is little data about their range, but records show that they are confined to coastal areas in the extreme south of the UK, with a couple of records from South Wales.

Conducting DNA analysis of droppings at long-eared bat roosts is important for discovering more about this rare species. Grey long-eared bats (Plecotus austriacus) and brown long-eared bats (Plecotus auritus) are very similar in many ways and can be difficult to distinguish from one another under normal survey conditions.

Colin Bonfield, Senior Ecologist notes: “The roost is also being used by other confirmed bat species including brown long-eared and serotine.  Because of the difficulty in distinguishing the two species of long-eared bat, and their habits of sharing roosts, it’s easy to miss the rarer species. This is why DNA analysis is so important.”

“Devon is a stronghold for bats in the UK, with 16 species recorded here. Grey long-eared bats are light averse and the low levels of light pollution in the county are favourable. There is diverse foraging habitat in this part of the country, with plenty of woodland and old buildings that provide suitable foraging habitat and roosts.”

At Acorn Ecology Ltd we abide by the highest professional standards with our surveys, following best practice guidelines and adhering to a professional Code of Conduct. We contribute to national and local species recording by submitting all our data to the local records centre.

For more information on this story, or a copy of the press release, please get in touch.

Grey long-eared bat facts

  • Broad wings are perfect for slow highly manoeuvrable flight.
  • One of the hunting methods of both species of long-eared bat is “gleaning”. This involves the bat listening out for high frequency sounds produced by their prey moving on vegetation, then picking them off.
  • Their ears are huge (almost as long as their body!) and very sensitive. When resting, they usually tuck their ears under their wings.
  • Their calls, like brown long-eared bats, are quiet which is why this species is also known as the “whispering” bat.

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