What Bat is That? Nocturnal Nature Detectives Wanted In Wester Ross
Three nocturnal events have been organised by The Highland Council’s Wester Ross Ranger, Lindsey Duncan dedicated solely to finding out more about those mysterious creatures of the night, bats.
The evening walks in Applecross, Gairloch and Ullapool hope to readdress some of the bad publicity bats have had over the years thanks to old horror movies. These walks will be the ideal opportunity for people to find out more about these fascinating creatures. For example did you know that of nearly 1000 species in the world, only 3, living in South America and Central America, feed on blood and a Pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3000 midges in one night!.
These events have been organised to coincide with a Europe-wide celebration of bats and their conservation, organised in the UK by the Bat Conservation Trust. Bats are widely misunderstood but the Council’s Countryside Rangers, along with almost one hundred other bat groups around the UK and the Bat Conservation Trust, are working hard to bust the myths and ensure that people can appreciate and enjoy these tiny mammals.
Lindsey Duncan said: “Taking part in a bat walk is great fun and definitely the best way to get closer to these fascinating creatures. At night eyes don’t work so well so bats have developed a very clever way of finding their way about in the dark – echolocation. The bats make very high-frequency sounds which bounce off their surroundings, (in the same way dolphins do) listening to the echoes to build up a sound picture. Humans cannot normally hear bats so by using a little gadget called a bat detector; participants will be able to tune in to the secret world of bats.
“They are amazing little mammals and in the Highlands we are lucky to be able to observe and listen to many different species.”
British bats hibernate during the winter months when there are few insects around for them to feed on. They find a cool place, free from disturbance, often a cave or disused tunnel, and tuck themselves away, often in a crack or crevice. Their heart-beat and breathing slow down and their temperature drops, so they use very little energy. One of the many myths about bats is that they are blind, hence the saying “blind as a bat”. Bats are not blind, but at night their ears are more important than their eyes. The echoes produced by echolocating gives the bat information about anything that is ahead of them, including the size and shape of an insect and which way it is going.
Many more interesting facts about how they feed, sleep and live can be discovered by coming along on one of the walks where participants will be able to use special sonic equipment to help them detect where the bats are.
The first walk takes place in Applecross on Tuesday 26 August from 8.30-10pm. The Gairloch walk takes place on Wednesday 3 September from 8.15pm to 10pm. and the Ullapool walk will be on Friday 5 September from 8pm to 10pm and will begin with a short indoor presentation.
Anyone interested in coming to one of the walks should book a place by ringing Lindsey on 07881 502230 and she will give details of where to meet up. The Applecross and Gairloch events are free, donations welcome, and the Ullapool event costs £2 for adults and £1 children to cover the cost of the hall. People should bring with them a torch and some midge repellent. All children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
For more information on bats, visit the Bat Conservation Trust’s website at www.bats.org.uk