Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Large bat on isles poses riddle

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

South Uist bat. Pic: Steve Duffield
The bat was photographed by Steve Duffield

A birdwatcher is believed to have made the first recorded sighting of a species of bat not previously seen on the Western Isles.

The Bat Conservation Trust hopes to confirm it was a noctule from images captured by Steve Duffield.

Pipistrelle, a smaller animal, is among the few species found on the isles.

Anne Youngman, the trust's Scottish officer, said it was highly likely it was a noctule but could be the rarer Leisler's bat.

There was an earlier theory that the bat was blown hundreds of miles off course while making a migration in North America, but experts now believe it may have arrived from mainland Scotland.

Peregrine falcon

Mrs Youngman said the trust's experts also believed the bat could be a Leisler's, a species previously recorded in Dumfries and Galloway, if not a noctule.

Mr Duffield photographed the bat flying in daytime on South Uist on Wednesday when the weather was warm.

Pipistrelle, a smaller animal, is among the few species known to live on the isles.

Mrs Youngman said it could be the first recorded sighting of a noctule on the Outer Hebrides and the most northerly and westerly record of one in the UK.

Meanwhile, the bat officer has also received a report from Skye of a peregrine falcon chasing two bats in daytime.

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