Becky is one of our keenest new bugs and came along with us to the Lakeside survey. Soggy showed her round the site, gave her a tally counter and left her to it. 800 bats later Becky emerged from the nettles with a huge grin on her face.
In total we counted 1100 bats. John and I planted ourselves in chairs on the grass and watched in comfort looking n according to Sogs , like a pair of pensioners on a day out at the seaside. Requests that she provide us with knotted hankies and ice cream were met with silence. Dick found a toad and brought it over to show us, Bob, Alex and Dick explored a piece of nearby woodland. The roost exit Geraldine stood by had relatively few bats emerging, we think because there is a tree branch overhanging the exit, which may explain why John and I saw so many. (The numbers we get has been as low as twenty).
It was a perfect night for bat watching last night, a beautiful moon shone from a clear sky . The air was warm and calm. There were lots of insects for the bats to feed on, and the mosquitoes were elsewhere not one bite all evening.
Tonight was a National Bat Monitoring Programme colony count so we were keen to complete it.
The bats decided to test our mettle and played “we’re going back in.. no we are not”. John and I watched 4 bats return. Each one approached the roost entrance several times and veered away at the last moments maybe ten times before landing, collapsing theirwings in an instant ( think of an umbrella that has an ultra efficient closing mechanism )and disappearing into the hole.
Becky and co had it worse at their exit point. Only (sic )193 bats came out of the exit we were watching. The exit Becky watched had fourteen go back and they had to stack like aircraft waiting to land at Heathrow, In the end we had to suspend the count when it became too dark to monitor returners. It was like dawn swarming, Maybe they could not get back in because others were still leaving, but when we left at eleven, there was still a sizable group ducking and diving. You would think this was a very energetically expensive thing to do, especially when it is likely they have given birth. Should we hone social services? Mothers neglecting their new borns to go out for a night with their girlfriends?
Instead we all stood open mouths enjoying the view.
Bat nights don’t come much better than this
PS Becky has just told me that she got bitten to pieces, maybe i am too old for the mossies these days, to which Geraldine, who is a similar age to me, riposted that she too was badly bitten – must be something about the nettles, It really was my lucky night