Tiny bun­dles of frag­ile wings and fur

Clutha Leader - - MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE AUCKLAND -

frag­ile wings and gin­gery brown fur. They are noted for their gen­tle per­son­al­ity, sit­ting calmly in re­searchers’ hands if caught by their spe­cial harp traps.

Per­haps that wouldn’t be the de­scrip­tion their prey used: night fliers like crane­flies, moths and mayflies that emerge along­side our rivers are caught in their hun­dreds by the for­ag­ing bats. They do this us­ing a kind of sonar called echolo­ca­tion; mak­ing calls and lis­ten­ing for echoes which are so high pitched we can only hear them us­ing ul­tra­sonic de­tec­tors or bat de­tec­tors.

For­tu­nately for us, th­ese bats like to shout loudly, fly early in the evening and travel out of the for­est down our val­leys for many kilo­me­tres. This means we are able to spot them as they go about their nightly for­ays.

I was for­tu­nate enough to be asked to find the bats of The Catlins back in 2013. I found not just the bats, but also my home.

I have not re­turned to the UK and am now a New Zealand res­i­dent, in large part down to the peo­ple and the bats of The Catlins.

If you would like to come out bat spot­ting this sum­mer, as part of the South Otago For­est & Bird sum­mer events, we will be in Owaka at the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre 7.30pm to­mor­row. Af­ter a short talk we will head up to Tawanui to watch our very own rare bats. Con­tact me for more de­tails: catlins­bats@gmail.com, or phone 0223 914 698.

COLIN O’DON­NELL/DEPART­MENT OF CON­SER­VA­TION

A fe­male long-tailed bat, a New Zealand na­tive land mam­mal.

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