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Country diary 1920: bats go hunting in the fading light

16 July 1920 They flicker to and fro amongst buildings, looking for crepuscular flies, beetles, and moths

At the close of these long July days, before the light has really faded, pipistrelle bats fly in swift circles round the trees or flicker to and fro amongst houses and outbuildings, hunting crepuscular flies, beetles, and moths. Their mammalian flight is quite distinct from that of birds, for they have a much simpler wing, merely a great hand with its long fingers united by membrane. They beat the air with this widespread hand, dodging to and fro. The bigger noctule flies higher, joining the swifts before they have retired for the night; its action is similar but its flight more direct than that of smaller bats. It cannot compete with the swift in speed, but it makes wonderful dives and snaps up even quick-flying beetles.

Related: Country diary: you could set your watch by these commuting bats

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