Cotehele's bats

Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in flight over silver birch branch

Cotehele is teeming with wildlife which live across its wide range of habitats.

Spring is a busy time of year for bats. Over the winter they hibernate, which helps them save energy when it’s cold and there’s less food around. In early spring - March and April - they come out of hibernation and are hungry and active, hunting for insects as the nights get warmer. By May the females will be roosting in maternity colonies and preparing to have their pups.

Are bats endangered?

‘Bats are a vital part of our native wildlife,’ says Joe Lawrence, Head Ranger at Cotehele, the National Trust property near Saltash. ‘Sadly, like a lot of our native wildlife, they are under pressure from the changing world that we live in. I like to think here at Cotehele we offer them a sanctuary.’

 

Which bats live at Cotehele?

According to the Bat Conservation Trust, the UK counts 17 resident bat species and Joe says about 10 of those can be found on the Cotehele estate.

‘Cotehele provides a variety of habitats to support so many species. Bats on the estate include tiny pipistrelles, which are less than the size of a thumb, Daubenton’s, sometimes called ‘water bats’ because they catch insects from the water’s surface and greater and lesser horseshoe bats. While horseshoe bats are rare in the rest of the country, they’re doing well in Cornwall and Devon.’

A Daubenton's bat
A Daubenton's bat
A Daubenton's bat

Whereabouts do they live?

Bats roost in the eaves of Cotehele’s holiday cottages, hollowed trees and the nooks and crannies of the limekilns on Cotehele Quay.  Several colonies of lesser horseshoe bats roost in four chimneys in Cotehele House.

Where can I see bats at Cotehele?

This is a great time to try to see bats hunting in the early evening, before the days get longer in summer and they emerge later at night.

The best place to see bats is down on Cotehele Quay in the evening, where you can watch the bats swooping overhead and feeding on the river. Each species can be identified from their unique high frequency emitted when flying so if you want to know which bats you’re looking at you could try taking a bat detector with you, which will help you identify them.

Greater horseshoe bat
Greater horseshoe bat hanging from rock in cave
Greater horseshoe bat