Hints and Tips

Bats live in the countryside, towns and cities across the UK. Here are the Big Bat Map top 5 tips to give you the best chance of seeing them.

  1. The summer is when bats are most active and your best chance of seeing them flying through the sky catching insects.
  2. Try to get outside about half an hour before sunrise or at sunset (look up sunset/sunrise times)
  3. You are more likely to see bats in warm dry weather (and you get nice warm sunsets as a backdrop!).
  4. Head to a bat hotspot or an area with lots of bat sightings.  Bats do move around a lot but they often hunt in the same areas and return to the same roosts every year.
  5. Don't just look up. Some bats fly high in the sky, some fly low, others hunt over open areas whilst some tend to stick near trees. And if you are by water keep an eye out for bats skimming the surface!

Bats you might see

There are 18 species of bat in the UK, but there are four that you're  likely to see.

  • Pipistrelles emerge around sunset, and are the one's you are most likely to spot.  They fly fast and can be seen twisting and turning around buildings, streetlights, trees and hedges.
  • Noctules emerge early in the evening just as it gets dark. They can be seen flying in a straight line, high overhead and have distinctive narrow wings.
  • Brown long-eared bats comes out ofter dark. They usually fly very close to trees, making them harder to spot. Their flight is slow and hovering a bit like that of a big butterfly.
  • Daubenton's bats fly low over water, skimming the surface like a mini hovercraft and catching insects with their big hairy feet!

Bat detecting

Although the size and flight lines give you clues on what species you are watching the best way to tell most species apart is using a bat detector.  Bats use high frequency calls normally beyond the range of human hearing to build up a sound picture of their surroundings.  This echolocation system enables them to wing their way through the dark night hunting the tiniest of insects.  A bat detector makes these echolocation calls audible to humans and as different bat species hunt different prey and are different sizes they make different calls which can help identify them. 

Bat walks guides will often have bat detectors so that you can hear as well as see bats. Find a bat walk near you. 

To find out more about echolocation and how to use a bat detector have a look at our video on YouTube.


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A cat watches the night sky for bats
Keep me inside at dusk and dawn in the summer to avoid bat casualties!