Sunday, 7 October 2012

In the Beginning...

My interest in bats stemmed from a childhood fascination in all things natural history. Like many kids growing up in semi rural Worcestershire in the 70's and 80's I spent much of my time outside in the local lanes and fields, I fished in the Piddle Brook and the river Avon and explored in Tiddesley wood. I collected butterflies and moths, brought home frogs and leeches and all manner of weird and ugly beasties that fascinated me and absolutely horrified my mother, and generally felt at one with nature.
I loved the unusual creatures in this world, and found little or no interest in lions or elephants that seemed to always grace the TV wildlife programs. Perhaps it was this interest in the less well known or understood creatures that sparked my interest in bats, for in my early teens I was obsessed with them. I used to watch them from my bedroom window, and with the advantage of youth, be able to hear them too (what I now know to he their social calls). I knew they were Pipistrelles, I could name all the diagnostic parts of their external anatomy, and recite all the then known UK species. But at the tender age of 11 all I had to enjoy these enigmatic creatures were my eyes and a copy of Which Bat Is It?... A bat detector was a dream. I even wrote to Dr Bob stebbings and asked for a circuit diagram in the misguided hope me or my dad could make one.  He sent me one too, but it never did transfer off the paper into something I yearned for.. It would be 30 odd years later before I would be able to listen in at my leisure, and in the mean time all I could do was watch them.

And I thank the earth that I could, because watching bats is ace!
The above is an extract from the introduction to a wee booklet I am writing called "How to Watch Bats"

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