Welcome, to the Headley Down Nature Reserve blog. I’ve been thinking long and hard about how and what to write. I’ve never blogged before. What could I write that could possibly interest anyone? Then, last night I had a serendipitous encounter with the very thing that we are seeking to support and protect … real live NATURE!
Blobbing on the sofa watching a bit of mind distracting drivel on TV, I became aware of a black blob in the corner of my eye. Since hitting fortysomething my eyesight has been deteriorating … maybe it was nothing.
Then again … movement in my peripheral vision.
Big black, scary, crawly thing! I froze.
I may pretend to the world that I’m not scared of spiders, and generally I can cope with them so long as they keep their distance and don’t scamper around.
‘Right’, I’m thinking, ‘I need to keep my eye on him and fetch a glass and piece of card so I can scoop him up and put him outside’.
I jumped up and turned to confront the hairy beast.
To my utter surprise and total amazement, what I saw was not an eight legged monster, but the sweetest, tiniest, furry bat, that had settled on my sofa, just by my shoulder.
I took a moment to really look at him … or her – it had such delicate little claws on his hind legs that hooked into the fabric of the cushion providing a really strong anchor. The forearms, to which the wings attached, had one little claw which it used to help crawl along my sofa. The little square nose and rounded ears looked almost teddy bear like. It had soft looking fur (I didn’t dare venture a stroke) that covered the body and head but ended near to the rump and gave way to wrinkly black skin which must surely stretch out into part of the wingspan.
I love watching their ghostly shadows swoop and swirl in the twilight above my back garden, but I’ve never seen a bat close to and stationary.
What to do now?
I called my sister (who works for Wildlife Aid Foundation in Leatherhead) ‘put gloves on, bats can carry rabies’ she said (after the initial squeaking and squealing of excitement of course!) I put gloves on and I opened all my windows and back door … no movement. Perhaps he’s sick? I picked up the sofa cushion and squished it into the window frame so that he could feel the cool breeze on his back … maybe that would make him fly. Nothing. Then I carried the sofa cushion to the back door. Very gently and carefully, I nudged him from the cushion onto the wooden rail outside my back door where he sat motionless.
Excitedly, I put in a ‘phone call to Angela (chair of the Headley Down Nature Reserve Trust) who came running round with her camera. Then after a short photo-shoot and as dusk really took hold, he took off, fluttered around for a moment and then disappeared silently into the woodland.
I was left feeling elated and honoured to have had such a beautiful visitor.
Not long ago, many of you helped to build bird and bat boxes for the Nature Reserve and surrounding area. It wont be long now before we are able to start the installation and encourage more Pipistrelles to make Headley Down Nature Reserve their home.
Thank you for reading. Each of the Trustees will be taking it in turn to write for the blog, so please check back to see the next installment.
My visitor was a Pipistrelle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_pipistrelle