How to spot bats

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Every hour enough plastic to fill two bin bags is washed into our oceans from canals and rivers.

If you're in the vicinity of one of our canals or rivers at dusk then come and see us. Whether you're out in the country or the centre of a city you have a good chance of spotting a bat on a calm evening.

Bat Bat

Our environment team work hard to make sure that our 200-year-old tunnels, bridges, and aqueducts welcome a variety of wildlife and provide suitable roosting areas so that you have a good chance to see some bats when you visit us. 

Bats are easier to spot during the summer months as they’re out and about hunting for insects. They’re fascinating to watch as they dart about catching their prey and showing off their agility. If you want to enjoy a night out with a difference then take a look at our guide to spotting bats and head out to the water.

Choose a dark area. Many bats avoid bright street lighting and prefer to fly in the dark so try and find a location with as little light pollution as possible. Don’t forget to take your torch for the walk home though.

Arrive just before the sun sets. Bats are easiest to spot around dusk when they come out to feed.

Watch the water. Bats need to hydrate themselves just as much as we do and you’ll often see them swooping down to take a drink from the waterway. You’ll also spot Daubenton’s bats hunting just over the water. They catch insects with their feet and will often feast while they are still flying.

Go out on a dry, still night. Bats don’t like hunting insects when it’s wet as the moisture in the air confuses their echolocation system. Flying when it’s wet or windy means that they will use up a lot of energy hunting but not get much in return.

Choose a good spot. Stand on a bridge so that you get a good view of the water in both directions or find a straight part of the waterway so that you can see as far as possible. Bats often feed in sheltered areas, where swarms of flying insects gather, such as winding holes bordered by mature trees. Places where the canal is wider are good too.

Last date edited: 29 July 2020