Our newest recruit gets her first ‘proper’ bat!

Pipistrelle bat sitting on Leigh's hand.  Leigh is wearing a black leather glove and the bats face is in profile.

Photos (c) China Blade 2012

The bat in the photo above isn’t with us anymore.  Like many bats that come into care, he came in with injuries which were too severe for him to recover.  What’s unique about Meatloaf is that he was the first bat cared for by Leigh Yeates, one of this year’s new recruits to the bat care network.  Due to the strange weather this year, the bat season is lasting a little longer than usual, and there were many pups born later than usual, so juvenile bats were still being found well into September.

A photo of volunteer Leigh Yeates, wearing a blue coat and leaning against a brick wall in three quarter profile.The problem with all this is that September is the month in which the National Bat Conference takes place, and unusually this isn’t a problem, but in the case of 2012, it meant that all of the bat carers in the area were away at conference while calls were still coming in.

So leave it to Leigh to step up to the plate – she not only collected Meatloaf, but she cared for him over several days – with only long-distance telephone support.  In the end, Meatloaf’s injuries overcame him, which isn’t the most rewarding outcome for a new carer, but Leigh understands that she DID the most important work – not only did she enable the bat to die warm, hydrated and in relative comfort instead of cold and stranded, but she undertook vital PR work for bat conservation in our area, by communicating with Lauren, the householder who found him, and by going the extra mile to keep Lauren updated on Meatloaf’s progress.

So a huge thanks to Leigh and to Lauren for everything they did for Meatloaf – it still goes down as a success in my book!

Volunteer Profile:  Leigh Yeates

Leigh is 36 years old, was born in Hanover, Germany and currently works full time as an administrator for a financial company.   As well as wildlife, in her spare time Leigh enjoys playing piano, going to the cinema and reading.  She’s been volunteering for conservation organisations since 2006, and has a life-long interest in wildlife (except spiders).  She also currently volunteers for West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue.  I asked her how she came to be interested in bats:  “I’ve always been interested in wildlife, and I was doing regular moth trapping, which led to helping out at bat & moth nights, and becoming interested in bats was a natural progression.”  I also asked Leigh what it was like looking after Meatloaf:  “I knew as soon as I saw him that it didn’t look good, but I wanted to give him a chance.  At least he died in relative comfort.”  Leigh’s recently had her rabies shots which enable her to do bat care, has been practicing bat handling with Bella and Belfry, and is looking forward to the bat handling course in January.

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