bat walk - image of a bat in flight

Bats at Bank Woods

30th October 2023

During the Summer of 2023, we have been fortunate enough to have high tech bat detectors placed and monitored by local bat expert, David Watkins. These were placed in two locations at Bank Woods.

One was placed in a slightly open area, near the highest edge of a steeply sloping section of one of our ancient woodlands. It remained there for two weeks from the end of August.

The other was placed among young trees in a largely open area, near to our wildlife pond, for two weeks in late September to early October.

The detectors can pick up and record the ultrasonic signals made by the bats as they fly. These were then automatically recorded onto a SIM card. Once the detecting period was over, the files were analyzed using specialist Sonobat software, and some manual checks by David Watkins.

We were delighted that eight different species of bat were found, as listed here.

Brandts bat / Whiskered bat

Brown long-eared bat

Common pipistrelle

Daubenton’s bat

Natterer’s bat


Soprano pipistrelle

Thanks to excellent information on the Bat Conservation Trust website, , here are a few facts about the species we have at Bank Woods. 

Brandt’s bat / Whiskered bat

These are very difficult to separate based on their calls. The software attributed both species as being present here, and both are likely to occur. The correct identification would need to be confirmed by other means, so it is best to regard them as Brandt’s/Whiskered

Brandt’s Bat is a small bat with shaggy fur. Its body is up to 5cm long, and its wingspan up to 24cm. It weighs around 7g.

They fly around woodland, skilfully navigating around trees, and picking prey insects from leaves. They are often found in buildings but tend to hibernate in caves and tunnels. Interestingly the first bats to be confirmed as Brandt’s bat were found at Smelthouses in 1970, only a couple of miles further up Nidderdale from Bank Woods.

Whiskered Bats have a fluttering flight, often following hedges. They hibernate in caves and tunnels.

Their body length is around 4cm, their wingspan around 22cm, and their weight around 6g.

Brown long-eared bat

This medium sized bat has a body up to 5cm long, and a wingspan around 25cm. They weigh around 10g.

They fly close to the ground, and sometimes pick insect prey from the ground or from foliage. They often roost in old barns. They use their incredibly sensitive hearing to locate insects; it is said they can hear a ladybird walking across a leaf!

Common pipistrelle and Soprano pipistrelle

These have only recently been recognized as two distinct species. They are extremely similar in appearance, and can only be easily distinguished from each other by their echolocation calls.

They are the commonest and most widespread species of bats.

They weigh about 5g, the length of their head and body is approximately 4cm, and their wingspan is around 20cm.

Amazingly, each of these bats can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night!

Daubenton’s Bat

This medium sized bat is also known as ‘The Water Bat’, as it typically feeds on insects close to the surface of water.

They weigh around 10g, their body is around 5cm long, and they have a wingspan of 25cm. Amazingly, they can fly at 25kph!

Natterer’s bat

This medium sized bat is a scarce species, and we are delighted they have made their home in our woods. They have broad wings allowing them to control their flying speed and direction very carefully. They can even pluck a spider from its web!

They have large ears and pink limbs. Their body is around 4.5cm long, they weigh around 10g and have a 27cm wingspan.


This is the largest British bat. Their body length is 4.5cm, they have a wingspan of 40cm and weigh up to 40g (ten times the weight of a pipistrelle!) They have narrow pointed wings.

They have a characteristic fast and powerful flight, reaching speeds of 50 kph! They fly above the tree tops, and dive to chase insects. They often appear before sunset.

Whiskered bat

This bat has a fluttering flight, often following hedges. They hibernate in caves and tunnels.

Their body length is around 4cm, their wingspan around 22cm, and their weight around 6g.

To learn more

If you would like to learn more about the bats who frequent Bank Woods, check out our ‘Beguiling Bat’ evening. After a talk, we will enjoy a drink and cake before venturing out to discover the bats with the help of David Watkins and his special bat detecting equipment. This family friendly event will take place on Friday 16th August 2024. For more information and to book your place, see this link.

To help our Bats

All bats are under threat from modern agricultural methods, and damage or obstruction to the locations where they roost or hibernate. We have installed a number of bat boxes,at several of our sites, and will be installing more in the coming years. We are delighted to offer these for dedication. A special gift for the bat lover in your family! For more information, see this link.