This is Vlad. If you’ve seen me do a bat talk this year, you will have met him – he has been staying with me since the summer when he came up from the Avon Bat Group to spend a few weeks in the flight cage. Alas, he would not fly at all, and it was looking quite likely that he’d go back down to Avon to become a permanent education bat. Today he had his first chance to use the flight cage since he came out for the winter in October, and to everyone’s surprise, flew perfectly well and actually seemed to enjoy himself!
Vlad is a Serotine (Eptesicus serotinus), which is one of our largest UK bat species. His overall size and appearance (and if you heard him, his echolocation) are very similar to a Noctule bat, but he’s actually a different genus. Serotines are one of our rarer species, usually confined to the south (but recently been recorded in Wales – check out Sam Dyer’s blog about the North Wales Serotine Project!). We also think we’ve recorded them in Walsall this year and will be investigating further this summer to confirm the record.
Not much is known about how the Serotine population is doing in the UK, but they are considered to be stable. They are threatened anywhere their food source (beetles) is scarce, which means that urbanisation is a huge threat to them as they will often forage over agricultural land, where they forage for dung beetles in the summer.
I’m delighted that Vlad’s prospects for release are looking brighter – he’s a handsome little man with a lovely personality, and its so good to think he might be flying around back at his home in Cheddar Gorge this summer!