I love the night. As humans we see so little of what goes on in the natural world once the sun sets, historically, as hunter gatherers it would have been when we retired to the safety of a cave, or the comfort of a fire, waiting for the sun to rise once more. Now, armed with my bat detector and Calonox thermal, after sunset is a new opportunity for nature observation.
Last year we had a group of ecologists visit Wild Finca, and they recorded an astonishing 16 species of bat using special loggers which detect bat calls. Now I head out with my bat detector and turn it on, in the darkness you can’t see the bats but the detector bursts into life, clicking and popping as a Greater Mouse eared bat evidently zips past me. I turn on my Calonox, and there in the meadow in front of me several bats fly about, swooping on insects.A glow on a post a little further from me then lifts off, and our resident barn owl begins to quarter the field. Hopefully hunting to feed the chicks in the box we erected and that they’ve chosen to nest in.Larger shapes in the field above me shuffle about, wild boar. Emerging for an evenings foraging. Their presence has been captured on the camera traps the last few months but this is the first time I’ve captured them in the flesh, the Calonox giving me that extra edge.I decide to head to a higher vantage point where I scan a few more of our fields and the forest edge. Maybe I’ll spot a roe deer grazing along the forest edge, or a genet working the tree line.
Badgers are a plenty here, but the lack of rain and hard ground means they’ve been focusing on the cow pats and horse dung left behind by our animals. The way we keep our animals means we don’t have to use chemical wormers, the dung full of insects, dung beetles make a tasty meal for a badger, the dung is rarely left intact for long, an afternoons horse dung pile scattered by sunrise the next day with a badger searching for a tasty bite.
This year in one of the small caves we have, foxes have raised cubs. We noticed activity in February so gave them space, kept our own dogs away and they’ve emerged with 3 cubs. Our chickens and ducks have a tight curfew to reduce the risk of conflict, but the camera trap has captured the dog fox returning with rats and voles, nature always finds a way and this natural control helps us. Less rats about and the pesky voles have a habit of eating the roots of our fruit trees, for us these foxes are very much welcome. Bats, foxes, badgers, boar, owls and more. The Calonox allows me a sneak peek into this nocturnal world. But with much to do, and two small children to entertain tomorrow, I probably should head to bed!