Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
In a horror flick the bat is that fang-toothed flying rat that gets tangled in your hair while you run for your life. While they may send shivers down some spines, bats are in reality clean, gentle, intelligent creatures, as well as being absolutely fascinating to watch.
There are 18 species of bat resident in Britain. Of these 18 we have the three tiny pipistrelle species – the common pipistrelle, the soprano pipistrelle and Nathusius’ pipistrelle. While the common and soprano are frequently sighted and are two of our commonest bats, it is the Nathusius’ that has proved most elusive since it was first recorded on Britain's shores in 1940. However, the Canal & River Trust are installing several bat boxes and monitoring equipment around reservoirs in South Birmingham and Staffordshire in the coming months in the hope of spotting more, as well as planning some exciting bat walks this summer.
Words: Abigail Whyte
You'll often find Nathusius’ pipistrelle roosting near large bodies of water and river corridors along which they migrate and feed; usually in wall cavities, rock fissures, tree holes and hollows. Water attracts lots of insects, making it a prime feeding ground.
This bat is both a resident and migratory bat capable of flying vast distances. Part of the population migrates to the UK for winter from as far away as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. There have been recorded sightings widespread across the British Isles.
During the breeding season and after the young are weaned in July and August, males sing continually during the night from their roosting site to attract a female. In late spring, females gather at maternity sites to give birth, usually in late May to early June. The baby bat or 'pup' is born blind and naked, feeding solely on its mother's milk for three to four weeks. It's able to fly at four weeks, then forage for itself at six weeks.
The Nathusius’ is larger than the common and soprano pipistrelle; measuring approximately 5cm in length – about the size of a human thumb. It weighs about 10g; the weight of a 50 pence piece. Average lifespan is two and a half to three years.
They generally have longer, shaggier fur than the common pipistrelle, with a reddish-brown colour and a paler underfur.
Soft, elastic skin stretched tight over arm, hand, leg and tail bones and elongated joints – the wings are, of course, all bats' distinguishing feature that equips them to be the only mammal that can fly. During flight, its wings are never flat – they're constantly adjusting their shape exploiting tiny fluctuations in the air around them, making them a true flyer, rather than a glider. A Nathusius’ pipistrelle's wings are broader than a common and soprano pipistrelle's, with a longer forearm and fifth finger.
The Nathusius’ has a high and jerky flight slightly faster than the common and soprano. Like all bats its aerial agility is incredible; catching its insect prey on the wing, also called aerial hawking.
To communicate, bats emit high-pitched sounds and listen to the echo for detailed information about their prey – its size, shape and location. The Nathusius’ produces a sound similar to other pipistrelles but its call is typically below 40Khz whereas the common pipistrelle call is around 45Khz. Their social calls, which are a lower frequency than their foraging calls, can be heard by the human ear.
The Nathusius’ has a voracious appetite, consuming thousands of insects a night – about a third of its body weight. It eats mosquitos, caddisflies and midges.
When to spot them
They can seen throughout most of the year if the evening is mild, but the best chance of spotting one is autumn when they concentrate on building up fat reserves to see them through winter, so they'll be out feeding regularly. Spring is also a good time when they feast on insects after winter hibernation. Keep your eyes peeled at dusk, when they're emerging from their roosts to feed. And don't forget to come along on a bat walk organised by the Trust – keep an eye out on the Trust's events page.
You're reading Waterfront, the online home of our supporters magazine. If you want to be the first to find out about out latest news and features then become a Friend of the Trust. We'll send you regular emails telling you all about our colourful canals and rivers and much more.
Become a Friend today