New record of Giant Noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus) near the Kharkiv city (North-eastern Ukraine)!

On the night of 30-31 July 2016, field team of researchers and young naturalists of Bat Rehabilitation Center: Vitali Hukov, Victor Kovalov, Lera Nazarenko, Olena Rodenko and Natalia Shanyuk mist-netted 5 individuals of Giant Noctule!

Giant Noctule is one of the rarest, and the biggest bat species in Europe.

In Kharkiv region as in all Ukraine, the last documented records of this species were taken in 1955 (61 year ago). Since then the species was estimated as extinct for the territory of Kharkiv region and was not included in current bat species list. Recently Giant Noctule was mist-netted only twice in Ukraine (by one individual in each case). Both records were done in Chernobyl Zone in 2009 and 2013.

This new record of Giant Noctule near the Kharkiv city was done only in 4 km away from the city border (Karavan vil., Dergachy district). Important to note that bat fauna of Kharkiv region was intensively studied since 1999. The most of big-square forests have been observed and near 15 000 of bats were captured. Therefore the new record of the species is not the consequences of poor studied bat fauna, but clearly is a new record for the area.

However the specialists of the Bat Rehabilitation Center not sure than the individuals of Giant Noctule were born in forests near the Kharkiv city. We hypothesize that they could be migratory individuals from the North (the nearest location of known breeding micropopulation of the species exists in Voronezh region, Russia). Nevertheless, currently the Giant Noctule returns to the bat species list of Kharkiv region, and it is the 13th bat species known for the region.

The observations of bats in forests near Kharkiv in summer 2016 were supported by The Explorers Club, USA.

All the five Giant Noctules were return back to nature in the evening to the same point (after measurements, ringing, photo and video sessions). The team of the Bat Rehabilitation Center wishes to these mysterious and rare bat giants successful trip to the South, to wintering areas.

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