Bats or Swallows

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My money's on bats. The ones I've seen fly like a UFO with two hyperactive monkeys fighting over the controls. Swifts, martins ans swallows do fly a bit like that, but are I think most active during the day, and although they don't soar, their flight patterns tend to be a bir more graceful and sweeping than bats, of which many species fly exactly as Scupper describes. If they are flying like that and appear at dusk, they are certainly bats.

Swallows and swifts may fly acrobatically, but rarely as erratically as bats; and they would not be likely to appear only at dusk, being active mainly during the day. The only nocturnal bird that would be flying around in the air where you are is a Nighthawk, and they have a much steadier flight than you describe.

Bats flap their wings a lot more than birds and are more erratic when flying, they change directions a lot more. If you can get close enough, throw a piece of worm up into the flock.

Why we should welcome the swallows of the night

If something eats it in midair, they're probably bats. Not to contradict you, Colibri, but I live next door to a house whose upper nooks house swifts which are quite crepuscular in their activity. While one may occasionally rarely see one on the wing during the day, they tend to begin hunting about an hour before sunset and continue well past dusk.

Their flight pattern is also very much what is described here, with smooth glides alternated with "jinks" and other aerial acrobatics, presumably to catch flying insects. Since we also have bluebirds, it may be an adaptation to a local opportunistic microniche, but I can validate that a they are swifts, and b they are predominantly -- almost exclusively -- crepuscular. Eventually, after a day's negotiation with a remarkably indifferent houseowner, one of the group was allowed to nick a hole in the gel, through which the bats could rejoin their babies and suckle like ourselves.

Being tiny, gymnastic and airborne.

The pipistrelle, for example, our smallest and most abundant bat has a day pregnancy and nurses her single offspring, born in June or July, for almost as long again. Leisler's is not only our biggest bat but probably the most important one ecologically. It is an endangered species in Europe, and Ireland, tucked away at the northern edge of its range, now holds its largest populations. The biggest known roost in the world is a breeding colony in West Cork with up to 1, bats.

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Leisler's seems to prefer attics to trees for its summer roosts. Dr Patrick O'Sullivan, who led a survey of Ireland's bats for the Wildlife Service, noted that this one his inquisitive, and will hang down, extending its neck to investigate disturbance. Occasionally it lands on the intruder, a habit unique to this species.

Is it necessary to reiterate that bats really don't get caught in women's hair? Empirical evidence in the matter was offered by the Earl of Cranbrook, a bat enthusiast. At a summer dinner party in his Suffolk home. I had done, the same with four different species of bat and the blondes, and the earlier results were repeated: the pipistrelle scrambled up over the top of Mary's head without getting entangled in any way and took flight out of the door, back into the night.

Pipistrelles are, however, the species which seems to cause the public most problems. They like to pack together in very confined spaces behind window sashes, under tiles and weather board, behind fascia boards and within the cavities of flat roofs, and they can squeeze through a hole no bigger than a thumbnail.

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They can be a bit smelly, they often squeak a lot in warm weather, and they make scratchy noises on the other side of the ceiling. It needs only one or, two to stray out of bounds and people start having hysterics.

Why we should welcome the swallows of the night

The long-eared bat is another attic rooster, but usually in small, numbers, clustered closely together under the roof ridge. It prefers a spacious, open attic, rather like the lesser horseshoe bat, which is most at home in the big houses and castles of the west. The lesser horseshoe named for the shape of its noseleaf is the only one of Ireland's seven species which actually hangs down freely from horizontal surfaces the little Natterer's bats in my woodshed, for example, wedge themselves invisibly into crevices in the corrugated roof.