We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

How to spot bats

Summer is one of the best times of year to spot bats and if you’d like to spot some of these captivating creatures then make your way down to your nearest canal or river.

Bat Bat

Some of our 200-year-old tunnels, bridges, and aqueducts are home to countless bats and if you plan your visit properly you’re almost guaranteed to see something flitting across the water.

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 spots too.

Last date edited: 13 August 2015