Oxnead Bats

Standing in the dark and the rain near Oxnead Bridge could be classified as suspicious behaviour. It is an early October evening and the weather is very autumnal. Roz, Alex and I were standing there listening to bats. Daubenton’s Bats, we think.

This had all come about as a result of a birthday present. As a bookworm with a serious addiction, Roz had decided to branch out (in search of variety) for my undeserved birthday present. A bat detector was the result. In effect a listening device which converts higher register so they are audible to the human ear. This has led to a lot of night walks.

The old railway line is good hunting ground – plenty of Pipistrelles amongst the trees which border the route. But it is the river bats that are most fascinating. They hunt just above the surface, their sonic calls converted to a machine-gun like tick which speeds up as prey is approached. Surprisingly wet October evenings are quite productive. With the aid of a torch their long winged route could be followed for a short while in each direction as they followed their regular route. It felt like we had discovered a new dimension – albeit a damp one.

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