Bats are really mysterious creatures, not helped by tales of vampires and images in movies. Going on a bat walk can bring you much closer to these animals and help you learn lots about them.
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Finding local bat walks
Quite often you’ll find that local nature groups or bat conservationists will run bat walks. If they do it’s a great introduction and can allow you to have a go of or at least see some bat detectors up close.
You’ll find that they run in the summer months, as bats hibernate through the winter and generally start at dusk. We found plenty by just googling local events and they all happily took children too.
Check out the Bat Conservation Trust to see if there are any events near to you – they also have some good pages with info about bats to learn more about what we have in the UK.
Go on your own bat walk
I find dusk the best time as there are lots of insects out that the bats eat and you can still see quite well. Sometimes it takes a while to get the timing right for them starting to come out, but once you do spot one it’s quite a sight. You can walk along places where you think bats will be – along side a pond or at the edge of a wood might be a good place to start, or even just outside your house in the garden. You don’t have to walk if you don’t want to – I bet that you’ll find lots just coming from local houses!
If you find some, take note of their flight paths. Different species of bats have different ways of flying and it’s one way of figuring out what’s around. Getting an illustrated bat guide like this one is a good idea to help identify what you see.
If you’d like to get more serious and get yourself a bat detector I can really recommend them. Unfortunately they’re not the cheapest bits of equipment, but if you go camping a lot or just have a real interest in bats, or your kids do, it can bring a whole new perspective to finding them.
This is the bat detector that we got. It’s a Magenta Bat 4 detector and is probably the cheapest reliable detector you can get. There are much more advanced ones with digital screens, but this one worked great for us. We’ve taken it camping in the UK, watched bats by the river in France and at home too! Because it picks up the echo location sounds as ‘pips’ on the detector it meant that we knew they were around and straining our eyes to find them was worthwhile!
Help out by doing a survey
The Bat Conservation Society also invite people to do a Sunrise and Sunset survey to help them get to know about the bats around the country. I think getting kids involved with these surveys are a great way to encourage them to learn about and get involved with nature more. The survey runs in the summer months of June, July and August, so still time for this year, and you can find out more information here.