Bats in your backyard

Bats in your backyard

It’s a fact! Many people in Hamilton are lucky enough to have bats in their backyard. And over the last 6 months, Kessels and Associates ecologists Mahuru Robb and Hannah Mueller have been helping get the word out there. After the success of the Hamilton City wide bat survey in 2011-2012, we have been involved in numerous surveys and education initiatives.

In the October school holidays, we teamed up with Sarah Oliver and Salina Ghazally from the Waikato Museum to take a series of nocturnal tours. Kids, par-ents, teachers and environmental enthusiasts turned up to the museum where Mahuru talked to them about bats. The talks covered bats both in the interna-tional and local context, with a few games and even a song thrown in to get everyone excited for the big event: a trip to Hammond park!

With our eyes peeled and ears tuned in, we headed off to the park, taking a nice dusk-time stroll along the boardwalk to some prime bat habitat. Our bat detec-tors were tuned in and we did our best to contain our excitement as the sun started to go down… then the waiting game started. And it paid off! The bats came

out each night, giving us a spectacular view of their feeding behaviour, swooping around our heads and echolocating furiously! The stars of the show didn’t disappoint and everyone was left buzzing.

Once the bat activity died down, we went to see the glow-worms and the resident eel, before heading back along the board walk while enjoying the cool spring evening. The response was positive from every-one, with so many questions about bats and when the next series of tours is starting.

This same response was shown when Mahuru did a short talk on bats at the Waikato Regional Council ‘Family Fun Day’. A wonderful group of staff and chil-dren attended to find out about bats in their backyard and what we can do to look after these special little animals.