By Jacob Roushia, Staff Writer | Beloit Daily News | Published July 28, 2022
Five different species of bats were spotted by a group of local citizens during Bat Night at Nature at the Confluence Wednesday. The event offered information about bats as well as the chance to identify some bats with the use of echo meters. “This is a one-time event, but could be repeated next year if there is public interest,” said Julie Uram, Executive Director at Nature at the Confluence. “We are planning a similar type of event to teach people about snakes and how they can help monitor snake populations on our property.”
A group of 22 adults and children went on an expedition around Nature at the Confluence hiking trails to find some bats. Animesh Adhikary, a AmeriCorps member at Nature At The Confluence and rising senior at Beloit College, hosted the event along with Uram. Adhikary is majoring in biology and started to gravitate towards the bat species.
“Bat’s have recently been given a bad reputation because of COVID-19,” Adhikary noted. “Bats are such interesting creatures as far as how much they contribute to the ecosystem and how unique their evolution process was.” Adhikary told those gathered for the bat excursion about the type of bats in the area, how bats help the environment and about the technology that the group would be using Wednesday to track the bats.
Adhikary showed the audience an Echo Meter that detects the bat’s communication and ultrasonic waves that humans aren’t able to hear. The Bat Pack, an app on the iPad, is able to take the waves detected by the echo meter and show the operator what type of bat has been detected. “Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford, let us borrow their bat monitoring equipment to demonstrate to the group during the event,” Uram noted. “The equipment is part of the Community Science program in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County.” Adhikary let children hold the echo meter and tablet throughout the 30 minute hike.
During the hike, the tablet was able to detect 12 total bats, containing five different species. Some of these species included the evening bat, big brown bat and little brown bat. Several families showed up for the educational event. “We have been happy to see our summer events well attended this year,” Uram noted. “Our Doggie Days dog party and July’s Community Fire and Drum Circle have brought the biggest crowds, and we are also thrilled to see regulars coming in for our weekly volunteer days and Friday Nature Friends Storytime.” This event, like almost all events at Nature at the Confluence, was free to everyone, but donations are always welcome.
“Bat Night At The Confluence and similar programs are funded from our general program budget which is made possible by individual and community donations, as well as grants and support from the City of South Beloit and Beloit 200,” Uram said.