The Weird and Wonderful World of Bat Noises

OK, you’ve been looking at pictures of bats on this blog for at least the last 6 months – so I thought it was about time you actually heard one as well.

Pipistrelle

One of the pipistrelle bats we found on an Autumn Bat Box check near to Corfe Mullen

Now, unless you are a small child with excellent hearing (which I doubt many of your are!), you’re unlikely to be able to hear bats (funnily enough I was one of the few who could hear bats when I was young and was always fascinated that no-one else could … it was like the bats were “talking” to me and nobody else!).

Sadly those days are long gone and I’ve become totally “bat deaf”. I hate this and for a long time have been umming and arhhing about buying a bat detector and recorder. They aren’t cheap but I’ve told myself that if I’m going to take this bat malarky seriously I need to buy them.

A week or so ago they were delivered. I recorded myself stomping through a snowy wood, the sound of a winter stream and a very tuneful robin…. but no bats.  However, I didn’t have to wait long and by 21 February I’d seen and heard my first bat in the garden and could once more immerse myself into the batty world of squeaks, clicks and slurps with my bat detector. Trouble was I hadn’t worked out how to record the little blighters!

By the 26 Feb I’d sussed it out and while the dinner bubbled on the stove I ran for the back door and was hit by the sound of bat echolocation calls on the detector before I’d even got into the garden. My little batty visitor couldn’t have been more co-operative and circled round and round a foot from the ground on the lawn in front of me.

The dinner boiled over but did I care? My first bat echolocation recording was in the bag. Here’s a short snippet of my very first recording – just click the arrow to play

I think this is a pipistrelle bat (our most common bat in the UK). The bat detector was set at 40kHz and I’m sure some of the experts out there will tell me if I’m right.

I promise you much, much more on bats in the months to come… this could become an obsession! (now there’s a surprise!)

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~ by Jane on March 1, 2009.

20 Responses to “The Weird and Wonderful World of Bat Noises”

  1. Blimey Jane, that bat is eating well – there are loads of feeding buzzes in there! Sounds like a pip, and I’d expect it to be I suppose – but it’d be worth setting the detector to 45 or 55kHz to find the peak, or check it out on Bat Scan of course.. Great recording by the way!

    • Hi Steve. We have a good fly restaurant in our garden! Next time I will set the detector at 45 to 55 to find the peak. Can’t wait for the other bats to appear.

  2. Great to hear the results of your bat detecting Jane. I bought a detector about 6 months ago, heard about 5 seconds of a bat the second evening and then all the bats disappeared although it wasn’t time for hibernation. This was most unusual as I used to have them visit the garden every evening year after year. Now waiting for the next bat ‘season’ so I can try again. I’ve used it occasionally when the birds are singing and I’m sure some of the song extends into the ultrasonic range as the bat detector can pick some up.

  3. Ooh – I’m so glad you purchased your “batty” equipment Jane. How amazing to be able to listen to them like that. I await further posts eagerly! (and post as many as you like :D) )

    • Thanks Tricia. That makes me feel so much better! I felt pretty bad spending all that money but your one comment has made it all worth while! :)

  4. Hi Jane, I’ve just stumbled across your gem of a blog. Your recording of bats is fascinating. I look forward to hearing (no pun intended!) more about the wildlife in your corner of the UK!

    • Thanks Sian. I’ve had a quick look at your blog and your adorable cat – but I will be back for a proper look! You will definitely get to hear more bat recordings if you come back here… hopefully some different species. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Hi there clever girl – not only can you get superb bat recordings, but you can provide information on all things technical!

    Thanks again…xx

    • Hi Paula. No problem. Not clever, just curious that the system didn’t already do what you were trying to do with your comments (I’d wanted to do the same for ages). Once I found the right setting it was sooooo painfully obvious I could have kicked myself… Ouch! :) J

  6. Hi Jane, I am glad you are blogging again! The bat recording reminded me of the blind American boy that could find his way ‘echolocating’, the noises he made were similar sharp clicks! I look forward to hearing more of your bat recordings!

    • I’d never heard of the American blind boy. How fascinating… I will have to delve into that. Don’t worry… as soon as the bats come out of hibernation properly I will be there – detector and recorder in hand! J

  7. I live in northern Germany, rural area, and I think I’ve heard what I believe are bats. Heard the sounds around 7pm today (feb 04). I’ve checked on the net, but the closest I came to recordings is your site. The sounds I heard are a high pitched sqeal or squeek – not at all like your recording. Could I be right in my assumption, or am I hearing some bird, which is flying about in the dark, which is most unusual. Hope you can help. Thanks so much.

  8. I think it could be bats. Although here in the UK we don’t usually see bats until about April/May when they come out of hibernation fully. The recordings here are done with the aid of a Bat Detector that makes the bat calls audible to the human ear. Usually adults can’t hear bats as they echo-locate at too high a frequency. However kids and youngsters can sometimes hear them (as they can hear higher frequencies). Usually bats will be out at dusk. Hope this helps.

  9. Hi Jane – Thanks for you help. I’ll keep an ear open, and if it’s not too dark and/or foggy maybe I’ll see a bat swooshing by.

  10. Hi Jane, Just listened to your pipistrelle sounds and found them fascinating. I live in Teignmouth, Devon and have seen pipistrelles flying around the high walls beside the railway line of my town. I can hear their noises, but not in detail as your recording shows. I am going to borrow the bat detector at the college I attend and have a go at bat detecting myself. Keep up the good work. Cath.

    • Hi Cathy. I have a friend who lives in Teignmouth! Glad this post has inspired you to listen to bats. Wonderful little creatures! You are very lucky if you can hear them… as you get older (like me :) ) you stop being able to hear them at all without a detector! You might find you also have a local Bat Group (your Devon WT would be able to tell you) Worth going out with them to get an idea of what you are listening to! Let me know how you get on. Jane

  11. Wonderful! I have just been watching (and hearing!) 3 large-ish bats flying around over my Worcestershire garden as the sun set. I have never heard bat calls before…(so this took me by surprise) and we have many Pipstrelles here. These were making a chirupping almost bird like call…a cross between a Robin’s alarm call and a House Martin’s call. In fact, they upset the local Robin who was “beeping” in answer to them. They are still there. Am very excited. What do you think they are? I live near woodland, if that helps.

    • How brilliant. You can’t usually hear bats (without a detector) but some of the larger bats do echo-locate at a frequency some people can hear (usually children are better at hearing them than adults). Not sure what species they would have been – could be noctule or serotine (which are our larger bats). However, I have heard Pipistrelles chirupping when they are leaving their roosting site (tiny bats) – maybe this is what you heard. Alternatively you can hear some bats when they are calling for mates (males do this) called a “lec” I think. Apparently this call is audible to us mere humans (without the need of a bat detector). Hope this helps. Jane

  12. Thanks for your reply Jane. I’m certain the bats in question are bigger than Pipistrelles. They fly in fairly stright lines, quite high up…then swoop to catch something. They “call” the whole time. The sound is like a robin’s alarm…but more rasping..like when you run a comb along the edge of a piece of paper. I have only seen three of these bats…they come out at sunset every evening as the rooks and jackdaws flock to roost in the nearby wood. They are lovely to watch. :)

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