International Bat Night 2019
The 12th International Bat Night was held on the 28th August at the John Mackintosh Hall, which proved to be a great sucess.
Prior bat nights had been held at the Alameda Open Air Theatre, which provided a natural setting and ideal auditorium. However, bat numbers tended to be on the low side, so organisers from GONHS and the Gibraltar National Museum under the auspices of their collaborative Gib-Bats project opted for a change of venue to the John Mackintosh Hall, which is home to a colony of Soprano Pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pygmaeus).
Introductory talk on Gibraltar's bats
The evening commenced with an introductory talk on Gibraltar's bats delivered by Albert Yome (GONHS) and Tyson Lee Holmes (GNM). As dusk set in, attendees went outside to watch the bats flying out of their roost and listen to their calls through ultrasonic bat detectors, since the echolocation calls are at frequencies above the range of human hearing. Other members of the Gib-Bats team were already beginning to catch and extract bats from a fine mesh ‘mist’ net which had been set up close to the roost’s entrance. These Soprano Pipistrelles were then processed, with measurements and samples being taken for scientific purposes before the bats were then released. This allowed for close-up views of these tiny and threatened mammals.
A small number of Soprano Pipistrelles exhibited characteristics of the closely related Kuhl’s Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus kuhlii), although definitive identification will only be confirmed upon the return of samples sent away for DNA testing.
The Gib-Bats team processing the bats.
Soprano Pipistrelle being extracted from a mist net.
Bats are protected under the Nature Protection Act and persons working with bats are licensed by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change. This year, the organisers had felt a need to limit the number of participants, which amounted to around 50, in addition to those directly involved with the event. In total, around 20 bats were caught and processed, with over double that number emerging from the roost without getting caught. The evening was a great success and next year's event is expected to follow a similar format.
GONHS would like to thank Gib-Bats members Stewart Finlayson, Tyson Lee Holmes and Giovanni Santini, and Stephen Warr (DEHCC) for their collaboration.