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MAY fruit / bat

May 13, 2011

I have a rooftop bat, of the common pipistrelle kind.  It danced through the light polluted orange air on a recent warm evening, catching flies and entertaining us as we ate a night time picnic.

Common pipistrelle © Hugh Clark.  All rights reserved. 

A tiny creature with a huge appetite, the common pipistrelle bat emerges from its summer roost just before sunset and speeds around devouring literally thousands of flying insects. They locate the bugs using high frequency sound waves and eat them on the wing. Inaudible to humans, their call has been variously described as something like a click and a wet slap.

Theirs is a fast, jerky flight, zipping around at two to ten metres above the ground. They tend to fly for a couple of hours before returning to their roosting site, but often head out for an extra helping later the same night.

Bats like London’s waterways, ponds and parks for feeding, and also enjoy her many buildings, with their wealth of crevices found between roof tiles, eaves and cavity walls, as places of rest.  You can read about them in my book when it comes out next month – it will feature lots of exotic London creatures including seals, peregrines, herons and owls.

As well as the bat, the rooftop is also currently home to one almost red Cambridge Favourite strawberry and one tiny, almost red wild one (the offspring of a plant that grew on a windowsill in Camden). The first fruits of the season, they’ll both be fully ripe in a matter of moments and I intend to eat them before the squirrels do.

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