After the Pipistrelle bats, the next commonest species in the county is Brown long-eared bat.  As the distribution map below shows, this extraordinary and beautiful bat is widespread.  It is, however, rather fussy about where it lives as it likes to be close to woodland and water and to have a large enclosed space in which to fly before going outside in the evening.  Therefore, it most often roosts in the roofs of large, old houses, old barns, etc.  In many instances it roosts along the ridge timbers, leaving a tell-tale row of droppings beneath, but in the north of England roosts in unheated old barns are often tucked away inside walls - in these situations there may be little or no sign of its presence.  Hibernation sites are usually in caves, tunnels and similar cool places.

Most maternity roosts of Brown long-eared bat are small, with around 30 bats.  There are a few larger roosts, including one in Wensleydale containing around 130 individuals.  Sometimes a few males are found roosting with the females.

Those extraordinary ears allow this species to specialise in feeding on species of moth that can hear echolocation calls.  Instead of flying about making loud calls, this bat uses its ears to listen for the faint sounds made by beating moth wings.  Once it has caught its prey it usually returns to a favourite perch to eat, spitting out the wings which gather below, allowing us to see what it has been feeding on.

Brown long-eared bat (Copyright John Altringham)