Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gone Batty

Do you ever wonder what you might be missing by sleeping late in the morning? Not too long ago we happened to get out the door earlier than usual--by maybe 7-8 minutes. We often experience those few magical moments of pre-dawn "dusk", but rarely have walked from darkness through pre-dawn dusk to daylight. This particular morning's darkness offered us our own National Geographic moment as we walked up Woolbright St. There were bats returning to their roost, a wood power pole on the side of the road, whose top is hollow.

Now for those of you who have lived around bats you might be thinking, "yeeeeaaaah, and the big deal iiiiisss?" Well, the big deal is that bats are under rated and under appreciated in their ecological role as bug eaters. They are my heros, not being that fond of bugs, yet knowing that they are part of our mortal existance. Frogs are my other hero for the same reason. Besides, bat guano is exceptionally good organic fertilizer.

Once we became aware of the morning bat landing we started watching for them, counting the bats that came home to roost, observing them as fast as our eyes could. They flit around for a moment, then swoop in and are gone from view. You really don't see much, like, for instance, when a dog walks by. Nevertheless, very interesting.

I suppose most walkers eventually look for diversion. Some become runners. Others look at the flora or inspect the home projects they walk by. Or plan a video shoot of bats coming home to roost.

Kaikai--we will miss him when we return home. He is a friend indeed, with many interesting talents, including photography and videography. We showed up early on the appointed morning with our little point and shoot camera, and he showed up with his video camera and all the trappings of a professional. It seemed like success was guaranteed, thanks to Kaikai.

We were there in plenty of time; didn't want to have all the the bats zwoop in while we were setting up. Kaikai kept adjusting everything for a perfect shooting as it began to grow light. We talked quietly and waited. And waited.

One bat zwooped in, then


We'd watched them as we walked by for a week--there were always eight or nine or ten. What's the deal here? Better question--how did the first one let all the others know that there were UHC's (unidentified human creatures) lurking suspiciously outside their roost? Skunked. Totally skunked. We hauled all our equipment back to the car and walked and planned our strategy for the next morning.

It seemed evident that our talking was troublesome to them. Actually, there are people walking up and down the street all the time; cars passing; regular city activity. I guess "passing" is the operative word here."

The next morning we set up early and were completely still. Didn't dare leave any equipment unattended, but did all we could to not spook the bats. This was on October 30th by the way.

As Kaikai's video owuld show if we could get it to load into our blog (RATS!), we met with success, seeing 10-11 bats zwoop in. Say it fast, okay? That's just what they do. You see them and then they're inside. Hopefully we'll figure this technical difficulty out and get the footage into this blog.

As a companion to our bat exploration, I'd like to recommend a book to share with your favorite---hmmmm---I almost said little people, but it's such a charming story I think anyone would enjoy it. It's called "Stellaluna", by Jannell Cannon. It's about a baby fruit bat and has themes of the love of mother and child, and being lost, then found. And don't forget to use your voice to make the characters alive. This book is very inviting and easy in this way.

I'd love to know whether there are Bats around Boise; we've lived there a very long time and never encountered any. Bye for now, and hopefully more bat adventures in our future.