What is a castle without a bat?

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The visiting bat, photographed by Sally-Ann Hurry

Last week, a worker dusting the rafters in the Rye Castle disturbed a small brown bat clinging to an ancient beam. The bat seemed calm and alert but refused to budge.

A call to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve put the Museum in touch with local bat expert Sally-Ann Hurry who advised staff to turn off the lights, open the doors and hope the guest found its own way out of the building naturally.

The bat was still there at opening time the following morning. It had attached itself to a timber on the ground floor of the Ypres Tower, just above the Steward’s desk. It flexed its wings from time to time, but was otherwise subdued. Visitors to the Tower admired it quietly throughout the day.

Sally-Ann was consulted again and decided to wait until dusk to come in person, since the bat wasn’t causing any disturbance. She retrieved the animal without incident at closing time. Later, she sent the following report:

“Thought you might like an update on the bat at Ypres Tower, Rye. I visited last Friday and took the bat into care, she is a brown long-eared bat born this year. She was very thirsty and a little underweight initially so it looks as though she had got lost/trapped in the tower. She has since returned to full health and I will release her tonight back at Rye so that she knows the area and can find her way home.” Female long-eared brown bats live close to their place of birth, apparently.

Sally-Ann took a picture of the visitor before releasing her near the Tower. She offered this advice to anyone finding a bat where it shouldn’t be.

“If you find a bat on the ground, on a wall or out in an exposed location, particularly during the daytime, it is likely the bat is in need of help. Please contact the Bat Conservation Trust helpline on: 0345 1300 228 who will be able to provide advice and put you in touch with a local volunteer bat rescuer and carer. Further information on bats can be found at: www.bats.org.uk

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