Bat watching: The art of paying attention

Cross-posted from: Aliya Mughal

“The Earth has music for those who listen.” George Santayana

Bats in flight, courtesy of

I hear it before I see it.  Repetitive ticks in quick succession, like the sound of a marble dropping on a tile floor before scuttling across the surface into the distance.  The sound suddenly gets louder, turning into a wet fluttering.  And then I see it, a pipistrelle bat swoops out from the barn door, over my head and into the dusky night.

Echolocation, the reverberating sounds made by bats that allow them to navigate in the dark when foraging for food, is indiscernible to the human ear.  I had the privilege of witnessing these majestic creatures in flight one evening, sat in a quiet unlit corner of an Oxfordshire field, with a bat detector tuning me in to the bats’ chatter.

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