hastingshippies's picture

What flies through the wood at night like this?

Observed: 4th March 2013 By: hastingshippies
Snapshot 1 (3-7-2013 8-49 AM)
Snapshot 2 (3-7-2013 9-02 AM)

Sorry but this is a bit cheeky, I have got to link you to a video for this one. I was filming badgers in our local woods with a trail cam and about six hours into the night (the time stamp is wrong)I got this vid. About 16 seconds through a swarm of animals flies toward the camera. I am thinking maybe bats? I can't think of any insect that would be behaving like this. I need to ask an expert. Thanks for looking.
Obviously I don't expect a species ID just an idea. Thanks. Colin

  • Midges
    Confidence: It might be this.
  • Bats (Microchiroptera)
    Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be.
    Likely ID
    Leaves blowing in a puff of wind
    Confidence: It might be this.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


dejayM's picture


I don't think it's cheeky.
I stepped though it and they are fast - bats then.
Might it be too cold for a number of bats?
Have you though moths though?

hastingshippies's picture


The flight seems so fast and purposeful, like they are going somewhere. I have never seen moths behave like that but maybe they do. Thanks Derek,

dejayM's picture

Don't laugh Colin

..but birds do fly at night and it looks like bird behaviour.
Bats are not as purposeful and moths is a no brainer I think.

Thistle's picture

Any sound track on the original?


hastingshippies's picture


Hi Thistle, nothing that I can hear. There,s obvious rustling of leaves on some of the other clips but nothing on this one and I didn't remove the audio to upload it.

Thistle's picture


A nice tweet or two might have helped! for my money the flight is too fast and purposeful for either bats or moths so, if it is animal, I think I'd go fir birds.

I did wonder, though, if there might simply have been a gust of wind to blow a few leaves through? Anything nearby to cause a sudden puff? Even a lorry going along a road?


Mydaea's picture

I would go along with the

I would go along with the idea of wind-blown material. If they were bats or birds you would get some impression of the beating wings. They are too fast for moths.

D.M.H.'s picture

plant material

This is wind borne debris IMO


All given ID's are subject to error/ommissions. Please seek independent verification before acting on ANY advice given. BE SAFE =)

dejayM's picture


Well Colin, you get good value for money here eh?
I doubt the debris suggestion because it's too fast and directional - above the camera, not crashing into it or rolling t'wards it. The first one comes in from the left. There is no movement of the trees, local debis or ground cover.
It would also have to be quite breezy for it to happen and would should be more regular over the time period.
...er maybe!

hastingshippies's picture

Ha ha! Thanks Derek and

Ha ha! Thanks Derek and everyone else. I kinda doubt the wind theory too. I got 22 badger vids that night over a 7 hour period and nothing else like this. There are no roads nearby we are in the heart of woodland and a valley at that but....if there is nothing around that flies like that then I can believe a freak gust of wind lifting the leaf litter. Just from a process of elimination. It's that or faeries. Thanks for all the help.

hastingshippies's picture

Thanks all.

Thanks all.

beefan's picture

night flight

I've watched this a good few times, I think it's a swirl of wind lifting leaf litter this can happen even on relatively still nights. Years ago I was a warden in Gtr Manchester most of the area covered was woodland and we often found that even deep in the trees there would be sudden gusts of wind at night, But I would love it to be fairies!

dejayM's picture

there's a man....

Yes, there's a man (Mark Barber) prepared to stick out his neck. Wish I'd've done it!. I'm with him - bats were my first instinct. Dare we give him support? Surely!

Mark David Barber's picture


Apologies I meant to say disassociating not disconnecting, and horizontally not vertical!

dejayM's picture

no chance...

Did you think we'd all go away when you wrote "Thanks all"?
NO chance!!
Time to give us more footage I think, switch on the mikes too, so we can hear the wind and the grunts.

Mark David Barber's picture

Would it be possible to move this to the mammal section please?

Would it be possible to move this to the mammal section please? More people may see it there.

Thistle's picture


Wouldn't that be to confirm the ID as bats of some sort? I don't think that's really decided yet. Insects (where it is) or Plants (if it's blowing leaves) would seem as appropriate.


Mydaea's picture

Agreed. The best place for

Agreed. The best place for this is in '?'. I can't see any justification for supposing that these things are bats, and my money is still on wind-blow. As for getting to species with any certainty, that is just fanciful.

the naturalist man's picture

Mote in God's eye

Some time ago i commented on this video and I can't for the life of me remember where; I thought it was on iSpot but clearly not. Unfortunately, I can not find my notes either.

However, I watched this video on some software I have which enhanced the picture and allowed me to watch frame by frame. I decided it is an optical illusion. I calculated how far the trees were and at what point the objects first appear based on the camera having a certain illumination distance (I looked what it was for trail cameras but can not remember it now). For the objects to be travelling the distance they appear to they would be doing over 100 miles an hour, far too fast for any animal and probably too fast for the camera to record. Also when enhanced they look a shapeless blur - I would have expected to see some shape.

So i concluded they were dust motes a few centimetres from the lens, I've seen similar effects when filming with my Sony nightsight camera. If anyone wants to do the calculations and test my theory feel free; just look up the distance the trail cameras can see and then time how long the motes are in view - simple calculation from there. In fact just a rough judgment how fast they move compared to the badger should be enough to convince you. And, of course, you only have to watch dust motes on a bright day to see their movement can appear random and not necessarily governed by any obvious air movement.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

dejayM's picture


Oh, lovely Graham - the Forensic (CSI) man again!
If nothing else it gives this post the edge on many others I've read recently.
Lovely shapeless blurs then - put it back in '?'
Dust motes in a beam of light
They slow down time ...
James Patrick Glennie