Bat Watching


   Norm's Horse and Mule paddock.

      About twenty minutes after the sun has disappeared night begins to fall. The temperature drops a good 10 degrees in that time. Bugs are flying over the horse paddock, around the trees and in and about the flowers in our garden, and over our lawn. I go to a knoll beside our horse barn and stand watching the western sky over Norm's horse paddock. It seems like a surprise, each night when the first bat appears. I know the little flying, furry critters haven't deserted me. Time to fire up the gear. I put on my headphones and turn on my bat detector. Maybe ready my camera or recorder. The first bat flies in large irregular circles, some times coming very close to me. When it is close I get good chirps and a buzz every now and then on my detector. When the bat zooms in on a bug, the chirp changes to a buzz.


    A bat just over the trees in our yard.

      The flight of a bat is like no other flying creature I know (a humming bird might come close). The bat's flight is very irregular. You can't tell which way it will go next. Up, down, over, swoop, climb, dive, everywhere all at once - very quick changes in direction. They sometimes appear to turn on themselves (reverse direction) without stopping.
      Here comes another now, along the tree line, past the madrones and pines, over the north fence. It flies right by my head, making an aweful racket in my headphones. This one flies past our barn and over toward our garden. A few minutes later it returns and flies the same pattern again. Now there are three, four. The night is warm and there are lots of bugs in the air. There is a feeding frenzy. After about fifteen minutes they all disappear, passing by ocasionally as the night darkens. I have not identified the species of bats I have seen but I believe they might be Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fucus) and Little Brown Bats from what I have read about the flight behavior.


   A Little Brown Bat like we see in our yard.
    (Sketch by Sasha Jones-Talavera)

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