Creatures of the night...

Common pipistrelle © Tom Marshall

A knock on the door and a request for help yesterday led to an unexpected close encounter with an often seen aerial acrobat

My neighbour exclaimed “It's crawling around on the floor. I don't know what we should do...” I donned a pair of gloves and found a small box in readiness. There, grounded, was one of our smallest mammals – the pipistrelle – weighing less than a two pence piece, wings neatly folded as it crawled across the ground.

Pipistrelle © Jon Traill

Pipistrelle © Jon Traill

Carefully lifted into the box, it spent the rest of the day tucked away under the folds of a garden glove, clinging tightly with clawed feet. A damp cloth provided an opportunity for a drink and to reduce the chance of overheating. As the warmth of the day gave way to the cooler dusk and dew gathered on the grass, the box was left on a garden table, lid opened to the darkness.

Our grounded visitor departed almost as quickly as it arrived, wings unfurled, a few jerky movements and it was airborne; the erratic staccato flight not a sign of problems, but a tell-tale sign that our pipistrelle bat was up, up and away. The night sky offered itself up and our bat took a few circuits of the garden before sliding off across a horse paddock to search out flying insects for sustenance.

Tawny owl credit Elliot Neep

Meanwhile, I remained grounded in the blackness, dog by my side, listening to the distant hoot of another night time actor in the nearby copse. The calm and cool of the evening air provided respite from the heat of another midsummer's day.