There were still bats in the woods as of Friday evening, September 27 when Treleven hosted a gathering of Vermont Coverts co-operators for a special evening bat walk. When we tour the bat zones with visitors on Saturday mornings, any bats currently on the farm are sleeping in their roost trees so they’re never on view. People just need to take it on faith that they’re here. But just at dusk as we walked through one of the enhanced “foraging zones” in the woods—where the forest’s midstory has been removed to make it easier for bats to hunt insects—there they were, cruising about high up in the canopy. And then when we got back to the house, there was another bat circling the inside of the garage at bat-like speeds…until he/she made an escape into the night.
But the bats will soon be decamping to head for their winter hibernacula, which tend to be at the southern end of the marble belt that stretches from Middlebury to Manchester…and it’s in those caves where the ravages of white-nose syndrome are most often found. Based on quite a few anecdotal reports, though—some of them offered by visitors who have come to tour the bat zones here—there have been more bats sighted this past summer than has been the case for the past couple years. So perhaps the wheel is turning, and/or evolution is doing its thing. Survival of the fittest and all.
We’ve had as many as eleven people show up for a bat walk, and as few as just one—but we’re happy to lead these hikes for anyone who shows up at Don and Cheryl’s house at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. It’s interesting that different people tend to have different areas of expertise when it comes to appreciating the world around us. Some know the birds, some know the various ground-cover plants in the woods, some are adept at understanding the geological forces that shaped the land here. The pooling of each person’s knowledge has been a rewarding part of these Saturday hikes, which are “supposed” to take 90 minutes but often go on for longer than that when everyone starts sharing what they know!
The last Saturday morning bat walk—for this year, anyway—will take place on November 2, by which point the forests will no longer be in the ecstasies of autumn foliage. In fact, there could even be snow on the ground. But dress for the weather and climatic conditions, and we’ll be happy to show you around.