Here There Be Bats

This weekend, I wanted to show the boys something I knew they would love. To tell the story properly, I need to go back to last fall.

A friend of mine, Janice Mazerolle, mentioned she had been hiking in the Chadburn Lake area. A couple of kilometres down the trail from the parking and day use area, she came across two buildings. The first was obviously a cook/bunk house for campers.

The second structure was a mystery to her. The door was open and there were green boards on hinges which she guessed were window covers. When she peeked inside the 12’x12′ building, the only furnishing was a ladder leading up to a small landing.

More intriguing, the window coverings were just that. There were no windows, screens or plastic to keep the elements out and the pieces of wood would not fit tightly enough to keep out bugs.

The building moved into memory as fall gave way to winter.

The odd little cabin came back to Janice in December when we were perusing a booklet on Yukon bats at work.

Sure enough, the pamphlet produced by the Yukon Government Environment Branch had a picture of the Chadburn Lake cabin, noting it as a hot spot for little brown bats.

Janice was disappointed she had missed the bats and resolved to head back in the summer to see them.

Fast forward to the last week of May this year.

Leonie called Janice and asked if she would be willing to play tour guide for the afternoon. Although we knew the way to Chadburn Lake, we had no idea where to go to find the bat house.

Janice had visited the cabin not two weeks earlier and confirmed there were now bats in residence. Even better, she had no plans for the afternoon so we were all set for the outing.

We also had an unscheduled extra show up for the trip. My older two sons, David and Brace, had bragged to their friend, Trace, where we were headed. Bat viewings are apparently a treat of the first order for boys. Trace checked with his Mom and the six of us, plus dog, piled into the suburban to meet Janice at the trail head.

We picked an excellent day for the walk. The sun was shining hot and there was the slightest of breezes. The trail to the bat house was about a 10-minute walk and travelled enough to be easily accessible by foot and bike.

Another excellent amenity the trail offers is outhouses, perfect for travelling with kids.

Upon arrival at the bat house, we toned down the volume a few notches and stuck our heads in for a peek. It took a little while for our eyes to adjust to the reduced light inside.

What initially looked like a piece of insulation to me turned out to be a little brown bat.

Once we knew what to look for, they were easy to spot along the peak of the ceiling. By climbing the ladder to the landing, we were afforded a better view.

The boys were thrilled and I have to admit these night flyers certainly struck me as being cute.

Although we did out best not to disturb them, occasionally one would wake up enough to move to a more secure position.

We all enjoyed watching them spider their way across the ceiling.

After almost an hour, we bade the bats good day, good bye and good hunting.

I know we’ll be alert in the late evenings now whenever something flies by to see if it is one of the elusive nocturnal hunters.

PHOTO: RICHARD LEGNER [email protected]

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