Museums at Night 2013: Bat walking through the scented woodlands at Hatchlands Park

By Amy Strike | 17 May 2013

Museums at Night Report: Culture24's Amy Strike reports back from a beautiful nocturnal Bat Walk at Hatchlands Park.

a photo of a path through rolling fields and woodland
Walking through hatchlands in search of bats...© Hatchlands Park NTPL

I was curious on arriving at the Hatchlands Park Museums at Night Bat Walk to find out exactly what a “Bat Detector” was.

Our Bat Walk Man greeted us, and promptly handed them out. They turned out to be small machines designed to pick up a bat’s echolocation at different frequencies. So off we went, bat detectors in hand, and for a glorious first hour of the evening we were treated to a behind-the-scenes wildlife tour of Hatchlands.

In the twilit wood the bluebells were in full scent. We were shown the hide out of a family of barn owls, given a brief but intriguing lesson in owl pellets and offered a good recipe for pesto using wild garlic.

Of course, the most important part of the evening was the bats. So once the sun began to set, out came the bat detectors and the hunt began.

Spotting a sudden flurry of movement in a tree, we all pointed our bat detectors wildly - at a slightly affronted pigeon. 

I was lucky enough to be the first one to pick up the sound of a bat, which began to dive around us, as if to show off, and protect us from the flies. What was quite amazing was how we had the ability to tell the difference between the different species of bat based on their calls.

Hatchlands Park is home to eleven of the eighteen species of bat, and we were lucky to see the Barbastelle and several kinds of Pipistrelle. 

My favourite part of the evening (discounting the bat detector, which made me feel like a Ghostbuster) was the moment we first heard a bat, and the Pipistrelle which flew right past my ear. A magical Museums at Night experience.

  • Museums at Night takes place in hundreds of venues across the UK from May 16 - May 18. See www.museumsatnight.org.uk to find out more.
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