#StayWild Tip: Spot a wild mammal. From urban squirrels and foxes, to bats, deer and hares in the countryside.
Featured image courtesy of www.publicdomainpictures.net
Of all the creatures that visit my garden, it is bats that are one of the most enigmatic. The fact that they are so small and hard to see, silhouetted against the dust sky, means that they retain an air of mystery.
There is a solitary bat (or a great many different bats, all taking turns) that appears predictably at sundown throughout summer, jinking and spiraling above the lawn and oak at the foot of the garden. I’ve stood outside and felt the air from the wings as it passed close to my head, and I have tried to comprehend how it must feel to explore an environment using the additional sense of echo-location that bats possess.
It is unimaginable.
I would love to examine bats close up, but haven’t had the opportunity to do so. The closest I have ever got was to a colony sleeping inside the walls of a timber-framed outbuilding on Inchacailloch, one of the isles on Loch Lomond. You could see their bums poking out from between the slats.
I always wanted to try one of those bat detectors that takes the high-frequency signals emitted by the bat and converts them into sounds detectable by the human ear, but I couldn’t justify the high cost for a piece of kit that I might only use a handful of times. During a family holiday in Wales, we went on a late night bat hunt armed with some detectors and I really enjoyed the experience.
Thankfully, I found the Discovery Channel Ultrasonic Detector and, even though it was marketed towards younger people, for less than £30 it turned out to be just as good as the more professional and expensive models.
It is a fun thing to do, listening out for bats. You have to search for them with the detector, as you would with an invisible search light, listening for traces of faint clicks. You then have to home in until the clicks get louder, and the tricky part is then trying to keep up with the amazing maneuvers that the bats can achieve.
I think I would enjoy getting up close to examine these amazing creatures in detail, or find out how to tell which species I am detecting. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to learn more. For now I’ll just have to keep looking up as night falls….