Monday, 12 May 2008

Batty Canoeists

What a glorious evening to be out on the lake. A group of us from work toddled down to the lake (a few miles from my village) to test out a new "wildlife encounter" idea. Using canoes we could take people out to less accessible spots in order to introduce them to the wonderful world of bats. Being a bat worker myself it was too good an opportunity to miss.

It was so tranquil out on the lake... although this didn't stop the competitive nature of our two teams getting the better of us for a short time! I'm not sure that our supervisors (and potential rescue crew) were prepared for unruly conservationists paddling at speed in opposite directions.

When dusk fell however and the bats began to show themselves, all was calm again and we got on with the serious business of trying to clock up as many species as possible. My team found three. Soprano Pipistrelles, one of our commonest species, was first to emerge, hunting for midges around the trees on the shore. Their splashy clicks on the bat detector are very distinctive.

Stars of the show were of course those water hunting specialists the Daubenton's Bats. These guys were on form and their rapid fire echolocation made the detectors vibrate as they zoomed past in pursuit of prey.

We were also lucky enough to find a Brown Long-eared Bat hunting in the broad leaved trees along the shore. These bats are also known as whispering bats since their echolocation is so quiet. They sneak about so as not to be detected by the moths that they hunt, and their hearing is so acute that they can tell the difference between a leaf and a moth sitting on a leaf. Pretty impressive!

Needless to say, our team were first home, LOL.

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