A species of bat normally found in continental Europe – the Geoffroy’s bat - has been identified in the UK for the first time ever on National Trust land in West Sussex.
Ecologist Daniel Whitby was conducting surveys in early September when he caught a male Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginatus), a small species which weights between six and nine grams and has woolly fur with a foxy red tint to it.
Daniel Whitby, a Consultant Ecologist and bat specialist, said:
“It was a real surprise to catch this bat. Geoffroy’s bat is nicknamed the Notch-eared bat because it has a distinctive notch in the top part of its ear, with this, along with other identification features; I quickly realized what an interesting bat I was holding.
“Bats are an amazingly diverse group with over 1200 species worldwide and 17 species known to be breeding in the UK, making up over a third of our native British mammals, yet we still know surprisingly little about them".
“This is the second new species recorded in the UK in the past few years after Alcathoe’s bat was also discovered in Sussex and through research we are slowly learning about the habitats of these fascinating but misunderstood creatures”
The National Trust is currently working closely with other conservation organisations on the South Downs to improve its habitat management for bats in woodland and on downland.
Dr David Bullock, the Trust’s Head of Nature Conservation said:
“This is great news and shows the importance of the bat survey and monitoring work we do. Geoffroy’s bat is found in continental Europe, including northern France, where it can be found foraging for insects over scrub and grassland.
“It may be that this individual is part of a colony or it may be another example of a new species moving in from the Continent as we improve our habitat management and as our climate warms. Like all other bats, it has protected status.”