M. Brock Fenton - The Bat: Wings in the Night Sky

Swan Hill Press £16.95
ISBN 1-84037-038-6

All anglers are familiar with bats, the harbingers of night. They weave silently around us in the gloaming as we pack up to go home – often they flit across my last view of the river as I turn towards the car. I see them all the time, but like the majority of people I know very little about them, so Brock Fenton’s book is particularly welcome. Perhaps the best way of summing it up is that it is a beginner’s book of the bat, written with a slightly gee whiz approach, but none the worse for it. Although British bats are covered to some extent, the text ranges widely in an attempt to illustrate the subject and there is everything here from the Little big-eared bat to Parnell’s moustached bat.

It is impossible not to increase one’s respect for bats when reading this book. I hadn’t appreciated quite how sophisticated their echolocation systems are, not had I realised that some insects (moths, lacewings, some beetles and many crickets) have bat detectors which can pick up an approaching bat at 40 metres – five times the range at which a bat can detect its meal. In response, some bats have shifted their biosonar systems to frequencies that their prey cannot hear, only to be defeated by Tiger moths which have gone one step further and evolved full-blown electronic counter measures, producing a series of clicks that put incoming bats right off their stroke. Makes you wonder why moths can’t avoid going splat all over your car windscreen, really.



Out of print