May 05, 2011

Noises in the Night

My post yesterday was all about the fishing which is not surprising as I was on something of a high at my result. But there was so much more to the trip. Sitting in a little tent in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wood and fields, it brings you right into nature and the wildlife was bountiful and at times, surprising.

As I walked the lake, looking for a swim to fish, I heard my first corncrake. This is a bird that I wanted to see or hear ever since I got into birds at the age of 7 or 8. I remember hearing a raucous call from my house on the edge of Taunton and I poured through the big bird guide I'd had for Christmas, to try and identify it. After much reading and interpreting the ornithological language of descriptive terms for bird song, I settled on a corncrake. My mother wasn't so sure but it made sense. Imagine my disappointment when, whilst walking toward town one day, there, at the top of a tree was my bird, a bloody crow!

With modern computer discs and the Internet, it is possible to identify bird calls very easily and one of the first I looked up was the corncrake so, the second I heard it the other day, I knew exactly what it was but I double checked on my return, just to make sure.

That was good enough but at night I was entertained by a passing nightjar and the eerie barking/howling of Munjacs. Laying there I couldn't help but let my imagination try to add pictures to the sound and, no matter how hard I tried, my mind could not attribute this unworldly sound to a tiny deer! It was the sort of sound that, in a movie, would be followed by the local saying to the back packer "Don't go onto the moors tonight", only to be ignored and end up..... well, we've all seen An American Werewolf in London haven't we :-)

Many of the other noises came from creatures moving in the dry undergrowth. Every now and then the dog would rush off to investigate and would chase something off be it badgers, rabbits, rats or whatever. But oddly, he ignored the bipedal footsteps that approached from my right. I fully expected another angler to appear but, when I stood to look in the direction of the noise - nothing! It was obviously one of the many pheasants but I never did see it.

The last noise woke me from a light sleep. As I said, when I hear a sound I instantly know if its new to me or not and attempt to either identify it or at least give it a mental picture. So there I am, bemused by the sound of what my mind has attributed to a minute space craft spinning past the bivvy. A couple of 'ticks' as it headed across the lake gave me a different image but when it returned a few minutes later, it was still a space ship!

On the Intergoogle I confirmed my suspicions. One of the few bats that I can still hear nowadays is the greater horseshoe and this one was sending out a barrage of sonar pulses as it flew beneath the trees, (check it out on Pity really, a spaceship would have been even more exciting.


  1. You can hear bats, I was never aware that I could hear any bats and I have got excellent hearing or so the quacks tell me.

    The lying buggers!

    'So Doc you reckon that I have exceptionally good hearing do you?' 'Only my woolly eared mate can hear bats.'

    Still fluff chucking BTW been out for a few hours everyday this week :)

  2. Trust me Conrad, my hearing is far from perfect - I hardly hear anything that Nicky tells me ;-)

    As a kid I used to hear all sorts of bat noises but we all lose the top end of our hearing as we reach our thirties/forties and I just about fall into that category. However, Greater Horseshoes have a much lower tone than most, I was watching and listening to one on the Wye last summer. So you can hear bats, just not all of 'em.

  3. They call it the Greater Horseshoe as it goes cliperty clop, cliperty clop, Conrad.

    Cant mistake it very audable.

  4. Fishing somewhere in the South West Mr Burr?

    Quite a rare sight/sound now a days is the Greater Horeshoe bat, i believe it is on the endangered list and has been for a while now.

  5. If I told you Tom, I'd have to kill you ;-)

    But, like the Muntjac, there's a few about here and there.

  6. Dave

    You can hear bats? You must be related to superman.
    The human hearing frequency spectrum is roughly 20Hz to 20Khz and the top end drops to around 12Khz as you progress through your twenties.
    Greater horseshoe bats have an almost constant frequency call of about 82kHz I think you might have been hearing the tips of their wings clapping under the body.........Unless it really was a space ship.