Sunday, 26 April 2009

I'm Going Batty in my Old Age

Yesterday I had a look at Snowbabies blog entry Bats and was intrigued by the piece of video of the bats hunting round the garden. Also I had visited Urban Extension - The Weird and Wonderful World of Bat Noises last month.
There used to be a regular bat visitor or two to my garden which hunted every evening towards dusk. I had long wanted something to enable me to hear the sounds they make so last year I bought a Magenta Bat4 detector. I saw and heard one bat for about 2 seconds the day it arrived and then there was no local activity for the rest of the year.

Bat4 detector with Sony dictaphone

This year I am pleased to say that there has been regular activity though they rarely come in to my garden as yet. Not many moths around here at the moment. One bat does regularly hunt just past the end of my garden towards dusk. There was a bit of daylight left so first I set the camera to the highest ISO speed it would dial, fixed the focus and tried to get a photo. This is about the best of the few I took.


Out of focus as it was hard to estimate how far away it would be. Also it moves so darned fast the shutter speed was still on the slow side for a good capture. Daylight was fading fast and the brightest light was from a solar powered lantern near the end of the garden. My favourite as it gives quite a realistic flicker.

Solar Lantern

Now was the time to try for a sound recording so I got out the bat detector and a Sony dictaphone in an attempt to record the bat hunting. Click here for a bit of the recording. The white noise (hiss) is from the detector as, with the bat being so far away, I had to turn up the volume but the clicks from the bat are quite clear. I don't know whether I had the detector set for the correct frequency, it being set about 47KHz. I shall experiment more over future nights. I am fairly sure that what we have here are Pipistrel Bats. Certainly it was one of those which flew in the back door and ended up in my bedroom a few years ago. I had to call on a friend to help get it out again as being that close to it was not my idea of fun.

Missed Opportunity
While I was waiting for a bat to make an appearance I noticed a dark lump towards the top of the telegraph pole just past the end of my garden. I was trying to work out what it could be when it moved and then took flight and swooped down and out of sight. Although it was just a dark shape against a dull sky I had just missed an opportunity to photograph one of the local owls. All I could make out was that it seemed quite a bit larger than a Barn Owl. It had been perched on one of the metal foot holds you see near the top of the poles. If that is a regular perch then I must keep an eye out for any future opportunities.


  1. Great stuff John, I haven't seen bats around our house for a long time and they used to be such a common sight! If I recall we used to have them in the loft. I loved your recording.
    I will look forward to hearing if you have any more sightings of the owl.

  2. Just listened to your bats - fantastic to hear that - thanks John.

    Hopefully your owl will be back and you will get another opportunity. Fingers crossed

  3. Shysongbird: I put the local lack of bats down to a dearth of moths. A few years ago there would be literally dozens battering the kitchen window at night trying to get to the light. Last year I saw hardly one. I occasionally see one going through the infra red lighting for the cameras but that is all.
    I'm not sure whether the recording was 'correct' but I was happy with it for a first attempt.

    Tricia: I hope to get better recordings as time and experience goes on.
    I often hear at least two different owls about at night so I hope one of them will pose for me some time.

  4. Really interesting post. We have a few pipestrelle here and the odd larger bat down some of the lanes. looking forward to the next installment!

  5. Listening to that John, I want a bat detector now. Great stuff. I usualy see a couple flying round here at dusk, be great to hear them too.

  6. Chris: Thanks. I've always found the subject of bat echo location interesting. Each type of bat has a different range of sounds and different 'bursts' of sound. This can enable identification.

    Keith: As usual there are quite a few bat detectors available at a range of prices. This one by Magenta is one of the cheaper type but it had good reviews from users.

    You might like to look at:

    for some general information.

  7. That's an interesting piece of equipment and I enjoyed reading you post about how you used it.

  8. Hi Mick: You can get some sort of electronic gizmo to do almost any job these days.
    It's fascinating what everyday objects are producing ultrasonic sounds in the home. A tube TV, computer fans, hard drives - the bat detector picks them all up. It's great for checking that the electronic pest scarers I have are actually working!


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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