Volume 37, Issue 1, 2018

Off the Bat

A Walk Through the Park

By Mike Daulton

On a summer evening last June, I met BCI Board Member Danielle Gustafson, her husband Brad Klein, and a large group of BCI board members, staff, and donors on the steps outside the American Museum of Natural History for a bat walk in Central Park.

We strolled down to a favorite spot in the park, a bridge where bats are known to enjoy skimming along the water at dusk. We saw ducks and raccoons, and talked, a bit worriedly, about what we might not see, since White-nose Syndrome has been killing bats in the northeast and in New York for more than a decade. New York, we were reminded, was the state where WNS was first discovered.

As the sun set and darkness came, the bats we were expecting didn’t show. Many in our group fearedthe worst.

Just then, Danielle appeared on the path behind us. “This way,” she said.

We followed her for a few minutes to an open plot of grass surrounded by trees. It was a bit darker there, and we were following the glow of smart phones. There too, we found stillness and silence.

Then, very suddenly, the first bats arrived, in a quick blur overhead. Fingers pointed excitedly skyward. Bat detectors were consulted and the bats were quickly determined to be eastern red bats.

Bat walks, it turns out, can be described in one word: fun. They bind a group of people together quickly, like any great experience in nature, where you and the person next to you feel like you both were just chosen to see something special and unusual and beautiful and rare.

At BCI, we want to share this unique experience with nature lovers across the country, and we are developing a plan to do just that. If you might like to join a walk, or lead one yourself, let us know. We’re eager to help you make it as special as that night in Central Park.

Mike Daulton

BCI Executive Director

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