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Bats!

When you have lived in a place for a long time you can become accustomed to its variety, even as its flora and wildlife change week by week. Showing it to someone new is an opportunity to throw off that familiarity that blunts your perception and see through refreshed eyes.

We have been playing with a new bat detector — a little gizmo that lowers the frequency of the otherwise inaudible echo location calls of bats into the audible range producing a sound we can hear and a pattern we can recognize and use to identify the species of bat as it flashes past.

Around our house in Wales we have recently identified pipistrelle, common and soprano, and noctules. The sopranos have higher pitched calls peaking at 55kHz, common ones at 45kHz. The detector makes one much more aware of their presence especially in the trees where there is much more activity than we had thought. It helps to demonstrate just how many and how busy these airborne insectivores are.

To aid identification one individual stopped by in my bedroom. He seemed very torpid and I was able to transport his sleeping body to the woodshed where he rested for a suspiciously long time.

Further investigation confirmed his extremely poor state of health and we buried him.

The following week the local bat group came to look at the colony of bats that have recently occupied our neighbour’s log cabin. They came armed with state of the art bat detectors, deck chairs, counters, tea, coffee, biscuits and insect repellent.

445 Soprano pipistrelles exited the roost that evening which led our neighbours to seriously ponder the possible toilet arrangements of their new tenants.

Thus, despite our own personal experience, soprano pipistrelle bats would seem to be thriving, at least in Wales.

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