Last Saturday night was TransitionKW’s bat hike at the Huron Natural Area of Kitchener. I attended with my three-year-old son and my friends’ four and six-year-old daughters. We began the evening learning all about the types of bats that live in our part of Ontario. While we waited for dusk to set out on our search for bats we learned about how bats in our region use echolocation to eat as many as 3000 insects every evening! Sadly, bats in this region and much of North America are in decline for a number of reasons, including a disease called White Nose Syndrome, as well as due to electricity-producing windmills, and human interference in their habitats.
After waiting out a brief thunderstorm we headed out into the park to begin searching for bats and other crepuscular wildlife (animals that are primarily active during twilight). There were about 15 adults and 20 children and we tried our best to not be too noisy as we walked the quickly darkening paths through the woods and along the pond.
We didn’t see very many bats, although we were aware of their presence thanks to echolocation which was picked up on two specialized microphones that were passed around the group. The highlight of the evening for many people was the abundance of fireflies that appeared right after the sunset. We spent about 30 minutes chasing them around, catching them briefly in jars so the kids could get closer looks. We didn’t arrive home until quite a bit after their bedtimes but the three children with me were very excited about their time in the woods, the bats, and the fireflies. We all look forward to the next TransitionKW family event!
Two days after the hike I read a short article in National Geographic about a blind man who uses echolocation to find his way around. Watching an interview with Daniel Kish helps give a human understanding to what bats do all the time!