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Most Significant

“It was brilliant moonlight, and the soft effect of the light over the sea and sky—merged together in one great, silent mystery—was beautiful beyond words. Between me and the moonlight flitted a great bat, coming and going in great whirling circles.”

Quite a vivid image!

The biggest bat in Britain is the Greater Mouse-Eared Bat, with a wingspan of 40 cm (16”), which is about the same wingspan as a Common Grackle and about 4” less than that of an American Robin. The wingspan of the Vampire Bat is also 40 cm. Learning to judge a bird (or bat’s) size is definitely a skill which must be learned; it is very tough to guess the size an unfamiliar flying bird when seen without objects for scale.

In other bat-related news, European bats are thought to be resistant to white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in North America.

Most Significant

Bat-related anecdote: Birdwatchers identify birds not just by appearance, but also by other things like the way they fly. Out from a perch and back, again and again? Probably a kingbird. Hawk flying very low over open terrain? Probably a harrier. (At least in my region; YMMV.)

Many years ago, I was watching birds near the river at sunset. After it became very dusky, bats came out to replace the swallows that had been working the river. I watched the bats for a while; even though it was nearly dark, I could see their distinctive flapping motion. Up the river, in the distance, I saw another bat. Same motion, but with much slower wingbeats and wider wings in proportion to the body. This thing was huge. It must be Dracula!

As it got nearer, I saw a pair of trailing legs silhoutted against the fading sky. And that is how I mistook a Great Blue Heron for a Little Brown Bat.

Most Significant

Whirling, wheeling bat
Over the moonlit ocean
Flees from my window.

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