The Day We Went Bat Hunting


After a farily uneventful weekend of sleep and slobbing, I decided to try and make one last hurrah for the weekend. The plan conspired after a telephone call to my Dad who mentioned that the Bats had started to fly around Dark Walk Woods on an evening.

I figured I had the right sort of microphone (a BatBox Baton) and the appropriate recording equipment (Olympus LS100) so I invited some loved ones to Valley Gardens in our town of Harrogate.

This was the first time I think I had been to Valley Gardens specifically to look for Bats - indeed, I cannot think of many other people who would be inclined to go to Valley Gardens to look for Bats.

Allan, Stewart, the wife & myself met up at our flat for quarter to nine and set off to Valley Gardens at a furious pace - I was determined that there would be bats and I was determined to see / listen to them. When we got to Valley Gardens it was still quite sunny and warm - it is just the other side of the town centre - as it had reached about 200ºc that day.

We walked up to the top of the parkland to the woodland, all the while surrounded by trees, bird-song and Stewart’s aromas. We sat kicking our heels for a good half an hour before we conceded that there were not going to be any bat sightings that night and I started apologising because me.

On the way down to the front end of Valley Gardens, I saw a massive Bat in my peripheral vision and drew the BatBox Baton like a six-shooter in the ol’ days of the West.

We spent a twenty humblingly blissful minutes listening to sounds that I do not think anyone in Valley Gardens had heard before - And, they were every where; the Bats that is. I was gobsmacked as the swooped, dived, pivoted and gracefully ate flies on the fly. I passed the BatBox Baton around the group and we all took a turn in pointing the thing, wildly spinning around on the spot trying to keep a track of the flying fur-balls.

Eventually, I had the gumption to whip out the LS100 and below is a two minute recording of, what I think are, Brown Long Eared Bats.

How did I arrive at the conclusion that they were Brown Long Eared Bats? I mean, they flew so swiftly that it was hard to make them out in the growing gloom. Well, tech.

After calling in to Major Tom’s & The Blues Bar for a swift libation I set about trying to figure out what species these magnificant creatures were.

I had a piece of software running on a Windows computer called BatScan. After editing the recording from the LS100 in Audacity I was able to compare the spectrograph of my recording with the sprectrograph of several species.

The spectrograph of the recording above.


The spectograph of the recording above.

A spectrograph of a bank recording of a Brown Long Eared Bat.

A spectrograph of a bank recording of a Brown Long Eared Bat.[/caption]

At first I thought I was on to something as the frequency range is the same a Pipistrelle - although, Pipistrelle have a condensed natter’ in their call that was not present in my recording.

Brown Long Eared Bat

Brown Long Eared Bat

The duration of the peaks and troughs and the frequency range seem to fit the Common Long Eared Bat (Plecotus auritus), also known as the Common Long Eared Bat. According to my online research, the Brown Long Eared Bat is a fairly large European Bat and has strikingly large ears’ (relatively) - please see attached image. They hibernate over winter, between November & April and feed along Hedgerows, Gardens, Woodlands & Parkland during the summer - my online research says that they have a relatively slow, fluttery flight; my opinion is was damn hard to keep up with the buggers. This species can live up to 30 years and is a good indication of the health of the local Eco-system as they are particularly prone to the effects of The Man.

Fun times had by all ….. and Bats!

Up next A Review Of “An Eschatological Bestiary” By Oz Hardwick Letter #3
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