The smallest bat species here, such as Pipistrelle Pipistrellus spp and Lesser Horseshoe Rhinolophus hipposideros, weigh between 5 and 8 grams during the summer. They only need to put on a couple of grams of fat and they are ready for hibernation! By this time of the year they are tucked away in their hibernation site (although warm dry nights may still tempt them out). Lesser Horseshoes stay in hibernation from October to April, much longer than Pipistrelles, who don't get serious about hibernating until November and emerge as early as February if the weather is good. Their tiny size is why it is so important not to disturb them while hibernating. A single awakening could lose them enough energy that they don't make it to spring.
A downed Pipistrelle in our garage, not taking the hint to move into the nice safe toilet roll tube I am offering it. I'm wearing gloves because it is potentially not safe to handle bats with bare hands as they can carry serious diseases which can affect humans.
A hibernating Lesser Horseshoe in an old underground limestone quarry.
Horseshoes are easy to recognise because of their habit of wrapping themselves up in their wings.
A small brown bat which I think is a Pipistrelle, but could be something else.
A Pipistrelle flying over our garden.
A la cuisine hier: Nutcracking. Honestly, this is the most tedious task in the kitchen that I can think of, with the exception of peeling chestnuts. Walnuts are alright -- they are large and I never have a huge crop of them as our trees are still young. Hazelnuts on the other hand are always abundant, and about one shell in three is empty, even after culling all those with weevil holes and those that don't come away from their husks cleanly, as these are always empty. Their small size means they don't work with many commercial nutcrackers and you risk getting your fingers pinched. This year I resorted to holding the base of the nut steady in some pliers and whacking them smartly on the tip with the meat mallet. Still took hours and some nuts were still fiddly.