Central Edinburgh. The Water of Leith.
Dusk. Pipistrelle bats appear out of the gloom and flit round our heads and higher up above the trees, between the aqueduct and the viaduct. With bat detectors in our hands, the clicks of the two species of pipistrelles sound loudly against the gentle swirling of the river. We wonder where they roost, perhaps in the aqueduct or the viaduct or in the walls of the old converted school nearby? I hold my breath as the pipistrelles come closer and move away again.
Months later, mid-morning, I'm walking upstream from where we had been with the bat detectors. There's an intriguing old folly here, built from stone with a domed roof, lined with shells. It was built in the 18th Century as a Ladies Grotto, where the women of the party would rest, as the men went hunting through the extensive country estates round about. This particular day, I catch sight of a movement inside the darkness. A bat flutters round, close to the inside of the roof. I wonder how many others are in there, hiding in the cracks in the stonework.
Outskirts of Dumfries. Cluden Water.
After dusk. The swollen river swirls in white-flecked vortices. Daubenton's bats twist and turn low above the water. We try to watch them, but keep losing sight of them in the growing dark. We wander along the tree lined bank a little way to look for more bats. We stop in a clearing and look up into the dark grey sky above the trees. It is full of pipistrelles and a few larger bats too, which we don't recognise, but are probably not Daubenton's flying so high. Every so often one of the pipistrelles flies towards the trees, occasionally almost brushing past us, but just swerving away from us at the last moment. We walk back as dark descends, the air around us alive with bats chasing insects.
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