There is a colony of Daubenton’s bats at the castle. They are roosting in a room in the Gatehouse and can be heard and seen even during the daytime. They’re a protected species so people are asked not to get too close to them. Occasionally a licensed bat handler has to move one of them from the public space back to a safe area on a wall.
The colony is, I am told, a maternity roost. It consists of mothers and young – no adult males. It seems that they have displaced a colony of Natterer’s bats to an adjacent room. We know that they’re there because they leave evidence all over the exhibits.
This morning I was in the castle before it opened. The gatehouse entrance is checked for bats every morning and there was a comatose Daubenton’s behind the door. As she was out of sight it was decided not to move her. She was still there when I left at 4:30pm.
As I stood there (it’s great being the only person in the castle) another, much more active, bat appeared on the wall high up. It was moving about, spreading its wings, occasionally flying to a new space and generally being a bat. It was fascinating to see it so active during the daylight. I’ve seen the Daubentons fly a couple of times, but this guy was on an extended mission. It got quite close and as it arched backwards to clock me and have a shout I could see its white belly. This suggests that it’s a Natterer’s rather than a Daubenton’s (though I stand to be corrected).
Having had some daylight fun it flew up and away through a high internal door back towards the roosts.
It’s a special place this castle.