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Alice Street

We're Going On A Bat Hunt

Last night I went on the annual Bat Walk organised by the Friends of One Tree Hill - One Tree Hill being a local park of whose existence I was previously unaware, and the home, before it keeled over, of the oak for which the area is named (a new one was planted in 1905).

I met slightlyfoxed at Honor Oak Park, and we partook of sourdough pizza while waiting for the witching hour of 9PM. Then we joined a motley group of bat enthusiasts and our personable leader, who announced "You're all here for the slug walk, right?" and informed us that if we were really lucky, we might see two leopard slugs mating.

This was followed by ninety minutes of tramping through increasingly dark woodland, stopping at likely bat haunts to listen to the crackles of the bat detectors (radios) in hopes of hearing squeaks.

The bats weren't very cooperative, possibly because the moths weren't either. In one clearing we heard a fusillade of chirps, but I missed the single pipistrelle which subsequently shot overhead. Later there were lower-frequency sounds which the leader explained were probably made by a larger bat, perhaps a noctule or rare Leisler's. We waited in the hope that it would return, but it didn't.

It was a lovely evening, though, and I learned lots. For instance:

  • Common pipistrelles transmit at 45kHz while soprano pipistrelles are on 55kHz
  • There is only one known example of the mouse-eared bat in Britain, and he's probably a bit lonely
  • Bats are massive mansluts: it's not uncommon to open a bat box and find one male with a harem of six or seven females
  • You need to do 200 hours of volunteer work to get a bat-handling licence


We also admired the twinkling lights of London from a gun emplacement constructed during the First World War to take pot shots at Zeppelins. What an ace park!

Comments

I've been on several organised bat walks and no bats have turned up to any of them! But our household invested in a bat radio and we sometimes go to Battersea Park and pick up the sounds of bats flying around in the twilights. Bats are great!
Household bat radio is a brilliant idea. (I hear there's an iPhone add-on but it costs £stupid.)
Sounds like a cool (both in fun, and temp, given this heat!) way to spend an evening.

Bats are adorable!

*HUGS*
It was a beautiful evening yesterday after a rainy start - made for very pleasant wandering! *hugs*
Ooh that sounds fun, I am quite jealous! :)
You probably get to see bats without special equipment and expeditions! The bat detectors were fun, though.
To be fair, if I was invited to a human-spotting walk, I don't think I'd bother turning up either. :-)
I think I'd quite like being stared at by a crowd of earnest bats!
You need to do 200 hours of volunteer work to get a bat-handling licence

Wow, I never even knew there was such a thing as a bat license.

I hope all the bats got one for when they go about their batty business!
Someone said you need fewer hours than that to get a flying licence! Bats are quite rare and delicate, though - and, these days, might have rabies...
Ah, they might? I remember learning in school that rabies doesn't exist on the British isles — the times, they are a-changing.

(Or perhaps my teacher was just wrong. FWIW, it wasn't even in biology class — it was just mentioned as one reason why the British government used to object to the building of a channel tunnel in the past. Whether THAT is more than an urban legend is another question as well, of course.)
I'm not sure if the government objected, but some civilians definitely did! I also thought we were rabies-free, but migrating bats have brought it in. Luckily their strain can't be caught by cats and dogs, although humans can catch both...