A Contact Number for the Batman ?

Mom dropped in yesterday morning: blazing hot summer day and we are cutting the hedge between the front gardens; desperate for an excuse to rest and get a brew on. Our neighbour is away on holiday (somewhere in Wildenwoolly Wales I seem to recall) and we are looking after the cat and the house (in that order!).

The back garden is the perfect spot to relax; shaded by mature trees, visited by blackbirds and collared doves raiding berries in the rowan trees already and a cheeky blue tit. Surrounded by flowers, we take half an hour to catch up by the now-cool fire-pit.

After she leaves we scuttle up to the tip with bags of hedge trimmings (escallonia, ivy, hazel and Buddleia globosa). The Poplars tip, run by Biffa these days, is well organised and popular. It takes two trips and it seems we are not the only ones cutting hedges.

Back at home the phone rings. My mother. Do I still have a contact number for “the bat man”. This, I struggle to remember, would be one Mick Finnemore, a founder member of Warwickshire Bat Group. And no I don’t. But I do have the internet … a contraption my mother eschews fiercely as a “tool of Satan” … but is not averse to having others use on her behalf (to check hotels in Nice for example).

It turns out she got home to discover a “bat or a leaf” hanging from the house wall that borders the drive. She doesn’t like bats – “they look like too much like mice” – but doesn’t want to see this one suffer. It’s out in hot daylight, low enough for the cats to reach should they happen by (feral/farm cats).

DSC03377

I find a number and pass it on, but am fascinated. What kind of bat? What’ll happen next?

But I have tasks to attend to and have to leave visiting to satisfy my curiosity until later. I also look for advice on “stranded bats” in case nobody has managed to get there … at all/yet.

Mom’s on the ‘phone, having been frustrated by lack of answers, poor communication. The latest advice she gets is to take the critter to “a local vet”. Good job I’m there, then – with gloves – because she wouldn’t touch a bat with a twelve foot barge pole.

I lift the bat as gently as I can into a shoe box*, the lid of which is peppered with scissor holes. Definitely not a pipistrelle: this one has ears as long as its body; I am thinking long-eared bat, maybe even a rarer-in-these-parts horseshoe bat.

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Strange that yesterday evening, sitting, escaping a growing addiction to watching Britons winning Olympic medals on TV, by the fire pit we watched local bats hoovering up, we imagine midges and moths above our heads. Possibly using the bat box on the back wall of the house (wishful thinking I believe). Stranger still that I was, coincidentally, just reading a Neil Gaiman piece on the different artists (with changes of style) who have drawn DC Comic’s Bat Man, created originally by Bob Kane (when he was the batman). Gaiman says something to the effect that, at some point he gave up comparing interpretations of styles, realising that “in every new drawing of the character was every other Batman that had ever existed.” Profound indeed. But also I guess, represented by that single stranded bat was every other bat that has ever flown – and all of the modern day threats to the species.

Image result for batman bob kane

All of these facts bringing back childhood memories of when Roy S_ and I were rain gauge monitors in Mr Clarke’s top junior class. At the start of every month every child was handed an unlined piece of coloured foolscap (this was pre A4 sizes you need to understand) paper. We then had to carefully and accurately plot lines to give us what I would now recognise as a spreadsheet: one column for the day, another for date, temperatures (max and min), rainfall, cloud cover, wind strength (anybody remember the Beaufort Scale?), wind direction, barometric pressure and one for notes. Unable to measure accurately on the best of days and less able to join points already measured I dreaded this torture; but even so was trusted to get rainfall measurements each day. For the first ten minutes or so, then, everyone in the class would copy the day’s readings, taken by monitors, into their own charts (if you were absent for a day, you were responsible for copying missing data from a classmate). One September day, approaching the white box that contained said gauge we spotted a tiny bat scrunched up in the corners of a playground wall. The curriculum being more relaxed than it is today, the class spent lessons investigating, researching, drawing, measuring, writing poetry. We identified it as a fairly common bat: pipistrelle. It came home with me that evening, was left in the old pig-sty and, one way or another was not there the following morning.

Back to the present in which I transport the box-and-bat to the vets: 387 Vets on the Walsall Road. Service is polite and they, at least appear to know how to deal with the situation. Some small part of me was expecting them to tell me they did not treat wild animals, so this was a pleasant surprise. So I leave with a I’ve-done-all-I-can smile.

This morning I find out that indeed, the “bat rehabilitation people” came and collected the bat.

* Knew that box would come in handy one day!

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One response to this post.

  1. I’m so glad that between you all you managed to help this poor bat. They need all of the help they can get.

    Reply

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