June 12, 2010

This week in wildlife

Last night I stood outside as dusk fell, two bats dancing and swooping silently around my head. The last of the light shone through their wings as they flew, their flickering motion so different from a bird's.
They were catching moths and insects - adults need up to 3,000 per night, and right now the females are likely to be producing milk to feed their single young, which makes the hunt for food all the more important.
The UK has 18 bat species, all protected by law. Without seeing the bats' more clearly it's hard to say with any certainty what they were, but my guess would be common pipistrelles.
They didn't seem afraid of us at all, swooping within three or four feet of us as they passed and repassed, their sonar pin-sharp but inaudible to us. It was myserious, and wholly magical.