Strolling past the lake, I watched the ducks and swans getting ready for bed, when a high pitched squeak caught my attention. Suddenly, a small creature, silhouetted in the sunset, darted out of a tree, across the lake and then back towards the tree. It was a bat, looking for insects.
There are 18 species of bats in the UK, 17 of which are breeding. I couldn’t tell exactly what type of bat this was but if I’d had a bat detector I could have figured it out.
Bats use echolocation to find their prey and figure out their surroundings. They emit a call and listen to the echoes of the call that return from the objects around them. They can then use these echoes to locate and identify objects – and their prey. It’s a clever way of ‘seeing’.
Different species of bats emit these calls at different frequencies but most bat calls are too high-pitched for human ears to detect. Bat detectors convert the echolocation ultrasound signals into audible frequencies.
You can even hear when a bat catches an insect on bat detectors – it sounds like someone blowing a raspberry.
This bat in my local park was flying solo. He or she was acting as a scout for the rest of the colony, checking whether the conditions were good for hunting that night. As the weather was fine, more bats started emerging and I was treated with quite an exciting aerial display until it became too dark to see.
Bats are most active in the summer, when they come out of hibernation to hunt insects, give birth and raise their young so a bat walk is an ideal activity for 30 Days Wild. You can find them in both the countryside and urban areas.
Different species can be found along hedges, trees, grasslands and over water. Just remember to take a torch with you so you can find your way in the dark.