The Occurrence of Geoffroy’s Bat at Fairlight

On The Occurrence of Geoffroy’s Bat, Myotis emarginatus, At Fairlight.

One could not wish for a finer autumn day than October 10th this year. During the mid-afternoon I was loitering on the edge of the field that lies west of the Fairlight coastguard station in the sunshine and pleasantly warm, moderate, south-easterly. It had been a good day for a varied diurnal passage of birds, largely against the wind, as usual. My attention was taken by the sudden appearance of a bat approaching from the east which conveniently pitched into a nearby bush of Holly .I soon found it clamped upside-down, as is the way with bats, to a stem of the said plant.
It was visibly trembling as though with fatigue and so I did not approach too closely for fear that the animal would expire from shock. It quickly seemed to revive, however, and after some rapid grooming, sallied forth in an attempt to feed. Eventually it disappeared from view into the quarry area.
Having no expertise on bat i.d., for I have encountered them in daylight on only several occasions over many years, I made some notes of its characteristics. Its body was no more than two inches long and the fur on the upperside was a warm russet, without any grey tinge, and the belly whitish. It had a pointed snout but the most remarkable feature were the long, separate, ears which were broader at the base and very pointed at the top.
In flight it appeared quite long winged and flew with a sustained mechanical motion interspersed with sudden rapid, vertical, tumbling stoops; quite an acrobat! I could clearly see, however, that the aerymouse had no advantage over the insects in the broad light of day .From ear shape and colouration I feel this bat can only be this species and the second record for the British Isles, following hot on the heels of the first specimen located on the South Downs in September. Presumably Geoffroy’s Bat is attempting a northward range expansion.
Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844); naturalist and evolutionist. He was one of the scientists on the great Napoleonic expedition to Egypt (1798).Fraternal with Lamarck and Cuvier. A South American cat also bears his name, amongst others. Geoffroy was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honour by Bonaparte for his services to Science. Vive La Republique!
Michael Grace


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