Monday, 6 August 2012

My Batty Past is in the Can

College Lake Reserve (more photographs)
At the end of July I went on an evening safari around College Lake (a nature reserve near Tring, Hertfordshire) the idea being to see bats (which have been hit by the unseasonable weather) and glowworms (which were reasonably plentiful). Then today I went again - but just for a day time exercise walk and a sandwich lunch.

Lesser Horseshoe Bat in Devon Cave
(Devon Wildlife Trust)
As I was about to leave one of the volunteers called over to ask how I had enjoyed the safari. I mentioned how interested I was in the electronic bat detectors - which had not been invented when I first worked with bats. This started some reminiscences  about some of my early involvement in research started nearly 60 years ago in Devon and my involvement in the foundation of the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust. I also mentioned how I got involved in bat ringing with the pioneering work on Horseshoe bats in Devon caves with John and Winifred Hooper. John was also interesting in filming and I described the first attempts to film bats in Beer Quarry Cave, possibly in about 1956. These disused mines were chosen because they were easy to access - with a level floor - and the lesser horseshoe bats, which we planned to film, showed up well on the light coloured walls. My brother and I were filmed looking for the bats - as was the Hooper's young daughter - who was just starting to talk - and so one of her first words was "bat". A year or so later the film was shown by the BBC - perhaps on Blue Peter.

At this point the person I was talking to said that recently he had seen seen the film - as part of a number of early bat films shown to a meeting of the North Bucks Bat Group. The person showing it had made some comments about the youngest member of the party, pointing out that then no-one was concerned about Health and Safety legislation! 

So some of my early batty research is still "in the can."

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