Cult classics feature their likenesses
in every other scene,
encouraging rumours of blood-thirsty beings
to sinking their teeth into human veins.
And while, yes, Vampire bats do exist,
to Central and South America:
weighing just two ounces,
their subtle feeding habits
don’t even disturb their prey.
Now, swing your attention
to (the often overcast) British skies,
and listen as I tell you
of the wonderous night-time furry fliers
woodlands and old buildings
Microbats, they’re dubbed,
as on the whole, they are rather small.
Don’t be fooled into thinking
they’re a single species, however,
for the term encompasses seventeen families,
diverse in every way –
from ear length to where they roost,
nose shape, and fur colour, too.
(And for those of you concerned,
they’re insectivores, all.)
Echolocation, that mystical-seeming skill —
with it, they navigate
the all-important hedgerow paths
between sheltered sleeping quarters
to feeding grounds,
where they zoom, zoom
to snap up flies, moths and gnats.
Yet threats lurk everywhere,
sometimes in the shape
of a misinformed homeowner,
fearing wires and woodwork
will be gnawed.
Forced awake and shunted out
precious energy reserves deplete
until the bats
can go on no more.
This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!