Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bat Walk at Steigerwald

We have been on bat walks before, and they are always fun.  It's a chance to experience nature after dark when most public land is closed and observe the subtle changes that happen as day turns into night.  We attended a bat walk at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and it was by far the coolest bat walk ever!  Steigerwald, like most National Wildlife Refuges, is a magnet for bird lovers. It's 1049 acres of mostly wetlands between Washington Highway 14 and the Columbia River, near Washougal. A creek runs through it and a stand of trees lines the creek.  But unlike the other places we have gone for bat walks, the trees do not encompass the whole sky.  As the light grew dim, the bats began to emerge to feed on the plentiful insects that thrive in the wetlands.  And they were easily spotted against the sky.  At first we saw a few little brown bats.  Then we got to a part of the park where the big brown bats live, and their enormous size really knocked our socks off!  We also saw owls, hawks and herons. A bat detector translated the high frequency sounds that bats use for echolocation into sounds we could easily hear.  It was a complete surprise to me to learn that many insects also make high frequency sounds which the bat detector also picked up.  Jasper was the youngest child on our bat walk, and he said he could hear some of these without the detector.  Our guide explained that children can hear high frequency sounds to a much greater degree than adults.


I wondered if this was some strange public art...actually
they're purple martin nesting boxes.
We could just see Mt. Hood in the distance.

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