May 20, 2011

Yet more about bats


In the first place, in response to all 4,211,003 of you who want to know if I have bats in my belfry, of course I have bats in my belfry. And your point would be?*

I don’t think I even bothered to come entirely awake this morning at shortly after mmph o’clock when there began to be strange noises in my bedroom. I opened one eye. There was a small furry flying body blundering around the raggedy canopy and wisps of faux bed curtains over my old four-poster. Great. And baby makes three. ARRRRGH. I put a pillow over my head and went back to sleep, last night/this morning being one of the nights/mornings that sleep was permitted. When I got up (finally) all was quiet and still . . . but contemplate, if you will, the slight twitchiness of having no idea where the thing is roosting for the day. At any moment you may dislodge it and be confronted . . . by a tiny alarmed pipistrelle which can’t do you much if any harm, but who wants to be flown at when they’re barely out of bed in the morning? Or at all, come to that. Do Not Want to Be Flown At. Add it to my list of attributes. Also, bats sleep during the day. A dislodged bat would be wearing its groggy morning face too. The possibilities for trauma and mayhem are endless. What if it was tucked up in my jeans, say? Which are hanging on the back of the bedroom door? Or my bath towel, as I lean toward it to rub freshly-washed morning face on it? EWWWWWW. Cheez, who needs Dracula? I can scare myself silly with the thought of a five-gram pipistrelle. I thought: May this one at least have the sense to go to ground upstairs, relatively out of reach of hellhounds. When I let resident hellhounds out of their crate I watched them carefully, but all they did was stretch and then start watching me carefully for signs that I was going to put my shoes on and pick up their harnesses.

I went up into the attic to have a look at my side of the bat nursery. Looks exactly the same as it did last year, when I had 410 bats on their side and none on my side. Year before that I didn’t know I had bats. There is a progression here I don’t like.

We left the cottage to its Chiropteran visitor(s) and went about our Friday business, usual** and unusual.*** I rang the Hampshire Bat Squad again and they laughed gently and suggested I block all visible holes. Have I mentioned that my cottage is over 200 years old and is pretty much more visible holes than it is anything else? Can I do something about those Augean Stables while I’m at it maybe? And create a pollution-free renewable fuel source? And the bat-nursery end of the attic is also the plumbing end and probably some of you know what happens when plumbing is added to a pre-existing building? Holes. Holes are what happen. Duct tape. Tomorrow I will buy all the duct tape in New Arcadia.†

Meanwhile, after Oisin, I found the bat. I had, somewhat uneasily, left hellhounds at the cottage, but Peter was due some visitors and hellhounds can be . . . enthusiastic. Came back to cottage, hellhounds were still crashed out in crate. They looked at me coming in the door and taking my shoes off and relapsed back into somnolence. I went upstairs and found . . . bat lying on the rolled-up carpet in a corner of the bathroom, which has just been turfed out of my office and is awaiting reassignment .†† Imagine having a gigantic, five-gram pipistrelle rising, with its phoenix-like wingspread, from a corner of the bathroom and swooping on you in your bath. I fetched another dustcloth. This one didn’t hiss when it found itself enveloped by a dustcloth, but it was still daylight and Its Batness was probably still trying to sleep. I rolled it up†††, took it downstairs, and unrolled it into the dark tangled shadows beneath the triffid, I mean the honeysuckle beside the garden door. Hmmph, it said, and scrabbled in the dirt a little.

The day was not a total bat-loss however. I rang an entire touch of Grandsire Triples tonight at bell practise—and a proper touch: not one engineered to keep me out of the action—without going wrong or being yelled at. My striking still leaves almost everything to be desired, but I am definitely gaining on this Grandsire Triples thing.

* * *

* So far as I know, New Arcadia does not have bats in its belfry, but Old Eden does. We had a confused pipistrelle bombing around the ringing chamber some time last winter while we were trying to ring, which is not a good thing. Every time we pulled off it would fly frantically round and round. Every time we stood our bells it would go attach itself, panting no doubt, to a bit of wall. EVENTUALLY it crawled up through the hatch and we closed the door behind it.

** This included taking my music along to Oisin^ and then bottling out because there were other people in the house who might hear me. But he played various bits on his newest organ-programme^^ and then whipped out the DVD his own organ teacher has recently released and . . . wow. I’ve posted Daniel Moult’s web site here before, but allow me to draw your attention to this: 

The Durufle is excellent, but the real knock-out is a little piece by Jehan Alain, Fantasmagorie. I’m not sure whether I’m doing you any favours posting this YouTube clip of it:

It gives you an idea, but Moult’s performance is so much better. (This may be YouTube’s fault, or my computer’s, and not the organist’s.) Alain was one of those eye-openers for me when Oisin was going through his what-do-you-mean-you-don’t-like-organ phase of my education.

^ Who suggested, in reference to my bat dilemma, that since it’s a pre-existing problem I should find someone to sue. Oisin, how American of you.

^^ Having no problem with the presence of other people in the house. Sigh.

*** The unusual also included ringing up my frelling credit card company, which got its knickers in a twist the other night when I was trying to order next year’s Met Live series on line, decided that no one would want to go to ten operas in eight months, crashed my credit card about halfway through the list, and started harassing me with robot suspected-credit-card-fraud phone messages, including waaaay earlier in the morning than I’m answering the phone.^ Thanks guys. Thanks so much.

^ Choice between phone at 8 am and bat at 8 am? I’ll take the bat.

† Although . . . bats eat bugs. Pipistrelles are specifically described as eating small moths. If they’d promise to eat all the clothes moths this situation would morph from ratbag to resolution. I was in fact in the attic yesterday manically sprinkling cedar oil everywhere—which works pretty well, but you have to keep doing it, and you also can’t miss anything—and thinking, this should deter any bats as well and, um . . . I wonder if bat-deterrence is what we want here?

†† Okay, what is this about floors? I have no idea where the first one ended up, but the second one was trying to wedge itself under the bottom of the kitchen door, and this one was lying on top of a bit of carpet. I thought they liked heights, and I thought they liked tucking themselves among other things. Hence anxieties about jeans and towels. None of the pipistrelle web sites are telling me anything at all usefully specific about roosts, or where bewildered indoor bats may choose to hunker down and wait for this really bad dream to go away.

I did however look up Bat Invasion on the Bat Conservation Trust^ site and this is what they say:

If you are frequently finding bats in your house, especially baby bats, then it may indicate that you have bats roosting in your roof. This is nothing to worry about – thousands of householders across the UK live happily with their bat roosts.

What? Do I negotiate with the union organisers? Or just have president of the bat league round to tea on alternate Tuesdays to discuss our mutual concerns? What do bats like for tea?

^ I belong. I belonged before I found out about the bat nursery in my roof.

††† With one tiny little hand sticking out—partly because I’m a klutz, but partly because I am a klutz, I wanted to keep track of where the crucial five grams is in that great scroll of dustcloth. They aren’t nearly as weightless for their size as a bird is, but your first thought is still I don’t want to squish it.


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