Tuesday 18 March 2008

Les Chauves-souris in the Loire Valley

Bats are great fun, and bat watching as an after dinner activity is addictive.

Last year I borrowed a bat detector from my friend Ken, who is the warden at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, and a bat lover from way back. Every evening in the summer when we were in Preuilly, we stepped outside the back door, at 9.20 pm, armed with the bat detector and a camera.

The bats come from a garden diagonally behind us. They come, at first just in ones and twos, but soon there is a veritable troupeau. They sweep a circuit over the bare earth that will one day be our garden, between the garage (stable) and the house and barn. They come across us and swing round over Ghislaine's garden next door. We sit on her garden wall and swivel our necks back and forth as if we are watching aerial tennis.
Soprano Pipistrelle
You can hear the wings beating with the 'naked' ear and smarty pants musicians with superhuman hearing can sometimes hear the ultrasound clicks when a bat closes in on prey immediately overhead. They flit and wheel and swoop, endlessly entertaining. With the bat detector, we can follow individual bats. Plip plip plipipip pipipipipipipip pippipippipipipbrrrrrrrt.

Brown Long-eared Bat
We seem to have two species close to the house - Soprano Pipistrelles and Brown Long-eared Bats. There is also what I think must be a third species, bigger, slower and never coming down to our level, crossing the sky in a much more classic Dracula movie style. This species is much less common and I have never seen more than two in the course of an evening's bat watching.



wcs said...

Ahhh... bat watching = warm summer evenings. The two just go together. I can't wait for this summer's games to begin!

Susan said...

Exactly !! And when the bats and the swifts are out together - hours of fun !

Ken Broadhurst said...

Have you had a bat in your house yet? We've had one bat and several birds since we got here in 2003. And just a couple of days ago we were chasing a big fat lizard around the kitchen. We caught him and put him unceremoniously back out in the cold.

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