I don’t actually have a belfry, but I do have bats. They have been regularly hunting in the garden for many years. I have managed to count at least three individuals at any one time, but there may be more.
I am making the assumption that these are pipistrelle bats, as they are the most common UK bat. Bats are protected and it is illegal to disturb them. Photographing them in their roosts or as they emerge would certainly count as disturbing them. These are urban bats and used to lights and they continued to hunt after I had used the flash to take a few photos. However, even we don’t like camera flashes going off in our faces so I wouldn’t make a habit of it. I am glad to say that it didn’t put them off and I took some video of them a few nights later, which you can view here.
The pipistrelle, Pipistellus pipistrellus, is the commonest of the UK’s 17 species of bat. They are also the smallest with a body length up to 4.5cm and a wingspan of up to 25cm, with reddish brown fur.
They are very agile in the air as they hunt insects using echolocation frequencies between 45 and 76 kHz. They can eat up to 3,000 insects each night.
Bat populations have declined dramatically in recent years. We can help to encourage them into our gardens by putting up bat boxes for them to roost in. We can also plant trees, shrubs and night flowering plants to encourage the insects that they hunt on.
For more information about British bats and how to help them the Bat Conservation Trust has a lot of information on its website.
Here is a much better photograph of a pipistrelle bat taken by someone else.