Monday 19 September 2011

Bats on Two Scottish Rivers

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.

for Nature Notes


Pomona said...

We don't seem to have had nearly so many bats this year - or perhaps because the weather has not been so good we have not been outside in the evening to see them. We have a WET system and normally they can be seen swooping around after the insects on warm evenings.

Pomona x

bunnits said...

I love watching bats. In years past, my sister and I would sit beside her backyard swimming pool at dusk and watch them dipping down to get a drink from the water. I see a few flitting around our house these days.

RG said...

They come out here at night too!

Leora said...

Oooh, bats. I had a bad experience with a bat as a teen. Or maybe it was a good one, because my parents weren't home, and I figured out how to handle the situation on my own.

I suppose they are fun to watch if you are in a group.

eileeninmd said...

I enjoyed your post. The bats here are disappearing, which is sad. I use to see a lot of them flying around my house and yard. Now, I am lucky to see one. I believe they are dying from a disease.

EG CameraGirl said...

It's nice to know the bats are still doing well there. We have seen a significant decline here.

Rambling Woods said...

I like that you wrote and didn't feel the need for a photo. I didn't see any bats this summer and millions are dying from a fungal disease here as they hibernate...Michelle

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks everyone, bats in the UK aren't (as yet) affected by the disease that is affecting US bats.

Rambling Woods, if we'd taken photos, I would have included one here!