Barbastelle is great rarity and a local speciality with more East Anglian records than for the whole of the rest of Britain. Summer colonies were known from near Calthorpe Broad and from the former stables of Sprowston Hall, which is now an hotel. This bat is black coloured, with pale tipped pelage & unusual in that its ears join above its head. Typically this bat is only recorded hibernating, especially during cold winters one or two singles have been found hibernating, fairly exposed, in chalk tunnels ice houses and amongst tree roots.
In 1996 a breeding group of about 40 were discovered in an old barn known as Paston Great Barn, situated in north-east Norfolk. Currently this is the only such group known from a building in the whole of the British Isles, though three other groups are now known to use tree holes. This colony has been monitored for five years and sadly their numbers are declining probably as a result of the various building works that have taken place. The owners of the barn – The North Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust wish to develop the site into some kind of “Visitor Centre” in colaboration with the Bacton Gas Plant. As you can imagine, this kind of development would be certain to cause the extinction of the colony.
There is still an enormous amount to learn about the habits and distribution of these understudied and misunderstood animals and everyone is encouraged to help with this task by reporting any found or seen, and to encourage the conservation of known roosting sites.