Last night I went bat spotting.
It wasn’t intentional; I had originally gone out to photograph the sunset, heading over to Kynance Cove where the heather is in full bloom once more, but a thick layer of cloud hung over the horizon and as the sun dropped behind it, the light was too poor to show the flowers off to their true potential.
On the journey home, my car began to make a worrying clunking sound when I drove over any bumps in the road. I decided to try and investigate further and turned off a small country road that I knew had a few potholes. As I travelled slowly down the road, ears listening intently to the sound, rabbits gambled out in front of me, taking their chances on the road at the last moment. I went slowly, touching my breaks to ensure they made their gambit to the other side safely. A small woodland flanked the road and the trees on either side of the track had grown over, meeting each other in the middle, creating a tunnel for me to travel through.
On reaching the farm at the end of the track, I got out and surveyed the car. When I opened the boot I discovered the random metal curtain pole my mother had given me (for reasons unknown) had become dislodged and was likely the source of my fears. I moved it, securing it down again and turned the car around. The sky was getting dark and as I travelled back down the road I switched my dipped headlights on. All of a sudden, a creature came darting down from the sky and disappeared beneath my view. I stopped the car. Split seconds later, it swooped up my windscreen and off into the night. Excitement coursed through my body and I drove ahead and pulled over into a small verge just past the trees. The sound of my door closing rang out into the silence around me and I walked back to the copse, my eyes adjusting to the low light. As they became used to the twilight, I saw them. Bats, around 10 or so, were darting beneath the leafy canopy. Swerving this way and that; dancing around each other before disappearing off into the trees. I watched in elation, spinning around like a child as they whizzed past, squealing inside my head every time one flew towards me at speed before suddenly jerking in a different direction.
I watched them for ages, trying to focus and follow the pattern of their flight, but they were too fast, their path too random for me to follow. I attempted a few photographs, but I do not have the skill or knowledge to take any decent shots. Behind me, the bushes rustled loudly; foxes or badgers no doubt, and an owl hooted in the distance. Normally this would cause me to investigate, but I barely acknowledged these things; utterly mesmerised by the only flying mammals in the world.
My concentration was broken when my phone buzzed; a text wanting to know where I was. Considering I had left home hours ago to photograph the sunset, I felt this was a fair demand and decided to make for home. I walked back out from under the trees’ comforting branches and the night sky suddenly opened up, as though someone had thrown down a black velvet sheet, punctuated by flickering lights.
As I headed home, my car was quiet. I made the decision in my head to leave the curtain pole for a while. Hey, who knows where it might take me next time…