Ah, the blessed rains!
Here is my pond this morning, the surface stippled with the pounding drops.
The first rains came 10 days ago, and it amazing how quickly it has aroused the lawn from its desiccated slumber. Compare it with how yellow it all was just before the rains began:
The pond is my biggest magnet for wildlife in the garden, with a Heron there this morning and a Kingfisher on the island earlier this week. However, one of its greatest shows is as night falls.
Last night it was the evening sky that provided the drama as the sun peeped out from under some rainclouds:
But most nights it is the arrival of the bats that offers the entertainment. I stand at the pond edge and slowly get my eye in.
The majority appear to be pipstrelles of some kind, dashing at high speed, 'turning on a sixpence' as my granny used to say (do people still say that these days?). I'm saving up for a good bat detector that will help me pinpoint whether they are the Common Pipistrelle or the Soprano - it is amazing to think that these were not recognised as two different species until the 1990s.
However, about a month ago, a bat arrived at the pond that behaved differently. Its flight was slower, its turns not as dare-devil, its habit more fixed of circling at a stready 5 metres above the pond, only jinking away from its course on occasion.
It meant I was able to grab a couple of photos.
Alert: worst wildlife photos on the web coming up
I love its little sticky-out ears - if this had been a Long-eared Bat, they would have looked whoppers in comparison (and Long-eared don't like to be on the move until it is really dark, and then they often hug close to trees, even grabbing caterpillars off leaves.)
My 'slow bat' has now become 'two slow bats', and they are pretty much a nightly fixture now. The likelihood is that they are one of the species in the Myotis genus, of which the commonest is the Whiskered Bat. It is often found around houses, where they roost and raise their young in crevices in roofs and walls. However, little is known about where they hibernate, showing how little we still know about even relatively common bats.
I will report back once I've managed to pinpoint which species they are. But the real excitement, the crowning glory, will come if they take up residence in any of my crevices. .