Bat (good) encounter at Shadowlands
A rambling update from Shadowlands.
The whole family spent the weekend at Shadowlands for our eldest’s third birthday. Though we have not yet had snow, it is really quite bitter now. Fortunately the central heating (a rarity in Japan) is functioning well, and we were never cold.
The most interesting occurrence of the visit related to bats. After putting the junior member of the family to bed I looked out of the window at the back of the house (the second floor), where we have a spotlight shinning into the wilderness. The light plays beautifully on the trees. I was most surprised (given the onset of winter) to see three or four reasonably large bats swooping by the lights – presumably after the few remaining insects on the wing). They came within inches of the window. In fact these were the first bats I have ever seen in Hakone. I was fascinated by their antics, and borrowed my wife’s camera to take snaps. For some reason the camera has a longer-than-usual delay on the shutter and consequently I stood there for half an hour, snapping before, after and in anticipation of the bats swooping past, and never got a single picture. That, I thought, was the end of the encounter.
Move forward after a rewarding night’s sleep (those of you who have young kids will know about these things), and preparations to return to Tokyo. I was just sliding all the shutters across in the semi-gloom of the morning, when I got the shock of my life as something squealed, grew in size – something primordial, that seemed to be trying to get in. In fact, I had nearly decapitated a bat between the shutter and the window. Fortunately I had not embarked on my usual practice of violently sliding them across. The thing retreated and clung to the fly screen. Initially out of shock, but then just seemed to go back to sleep. Needing to shut the shutters, I spent about 10 minutes carefully poking it and attempting to prise it off. It was a beautiful thing; much bigger than the ones I have seen in the UK. Its body was about the size of a small rat, and the wing span about 15 inches. I’ve no idea what species, but I imagine it was a fruit bat of sorts – though Japan does have flying foxes. This bat had lovely grey underbelly. Of course, owing to diseases, I didn’t attempt to touch it. Will let you all know what species it was when I find out. A couple of pictures attached (sorry about the clarity).
We are blessed by such wonderful wildlife here, every trip is a real surprise. I would not be surprised if the bats use our eves to roost more permanently in future. As we plant things up in the future, no doubt the wildlife will only proliferate.
- 14 Dec, 2010
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