The mountains aren't the only things out during the Seattle summer months. Warm (or at least warmer) weather brings out the bats! My daughter and I knew we were in for a unique treat when we spotted the Bats Northwest volunteer dressed as a bat waiting to share her expertise on these furry night fliers.
While it's billed as a "bat walk," this is a bit of misnomer. We spent the evening in one prime bat watching spot near the Bathhouse Theater. Volunteers from the local nonprofit spent the first 45 minutes sharing their wealth of knowledge about bats, garnered from their firsthand experience gained respectively as researchers at the University of Washington and working for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They had cases of preserved local bats and bat skulls to look at, as well as puppets and picture books that acted as visual aids as they talked about all things batty. Questions from adults and kids were warmly encouraged.
We also learned (in a non-alarmist way) about the very real connection between bats and rabies. My 9-year-old daughter now wants to read anything about bats she can get her hands on, but also assures me she will never, ever pick one up. Our experts recommended books by Brian Lies, such as Bats in the Library, Bats at the Ballgame and Bats at the Beach as great, factually-accurate picture books on bats.
As the sun went down and the birds settled in the trees for the night, our guides got out their bat detectors (ultrasound detectors that lowered the frequency of the bat call to where human ears could hear them) and we waited for the bats. Before long we heard, then saw, Big Brown Bats followed by Silver Haired Bats swooping all around, munching on bugs.
This experience is perfect for the kid who knows (or thinks they know) everything there is to know about bats and for the kid who knows nothing, or is even afraid of them.
It's informative for adults too. Are you interested in building a bat house or want to know what you can do about bats living in your attic? Did you know we wouldn't have margaritas without bats? (Don't worry – the lecture is entirely kid friendly.)
The event has never been cancelled to date because of weather, so be prepared for whatever nature throws your way. It gets chilly as the sun goes down. It's not a bad idea to bring a toy or two for your children. Their playing won't bother the bats and it helps keep fidgety kids engaged.
The next Green Lake Bat Walk is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 28. They happen two or three times each month.
IF YOU GO
Where: Green Lake, Seattle. Meet on the grassy knoll where the picnic tables are located, across the paved walking path from the Bathhouse Theater. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot on the northwest side of the lake.
When: Every other week on various weekdays throughout the summer. Meet about 45 minutes before sunset. See website for exact dates and times.
Laura Spruce Wight is a Seattle-area freelance writer and mother of two kids who frequently drive her batty.