Children see bats at Uelfebad

Holiday fun in Radevormwald
Visiting “Batman” and Co.

As part of this year’s holiday fun, about 40 curious adventurers came late Thursday to “Batman Night” in Uelfebad to see bats. There they also examined crayfish.

Well-equipped with weather-resistant clothes, hats and flashlights, almost 30 children, accompanied by their parents and grandparents, stand ready on Thursday evening at the edge of Uelfebad to go on a discovery trip. It’s 9:30 p.m., it’s still light, but it’s already getting dark on the horizon. “When will we finally see the bats?” asks a little boy, impatiently holding his mother’s hand. “Soon,” she reassures him, pointing her index finger at a man who stands up in the middle of the group and greets the adventurers. It is Tom Klinkenberg, deputy chairman of the Radevormwald local association of the Bergischer Naturschutzverein, bat expert and guide for this special evening.

“What do you know about bats?” Klinkenberg would like to know, preferably from his little guests. Some look timidly at their companions, unsure whether they should dare to reveal their knowledge to the great crowd. “Come on,” a father urges his daughter. She replies. “Bats can fly and eat insects,” she quickly exclaims. Klinkenberg nods appreciatively. “Yes, that’s right. What else do you know?” replies a boy. “Bats move with sonar.” The expert laughs and nods. “Yes, you could say that.” The little flying animals emit ultrasonic clicks to explore their surroundings. The bats can use the reflected sound waves to orient themselves, explains Klinkenberg. As a living example, he invites the children to the game “Bat and Moth”. The one imitating the bat is blindfolded. The moth, on the other hand, gets two sound sticks with which it draws attention to itself. The bat then only has to use its hearing to catch the prey. So that the bat does not load into the water in the Uelfebad, the parents and accompanying persons form a protective circle where the moth and bat can let off steam. After the first hesitant attempts, more and more children dare to slip into the roles of bats and moths, where the role of moths seems to be much more popular. “Not so easy, is it?” says Klinkenberg to a child whose blindfold is being removed. Now the little adventurers can sit down much better e into the strenuous lifestyle of the flying animals.

But the children get nervous. They will finally see a living specimen. To that end, Klinkenberg guides the expedition past the restaurant in the direction of the forest. On the tall trees, he shows curious children and interested adults where the little water bats live. Small wooden boxes high up in the trees serve as safe shelter for the little flying foxes. Suddenly a loud scream is heard. “I saw one! There she is! Over there over the water!” a boy exclaims excitedly. Everyone examines the almost mirror-smooth surface of the Uelfebad. At dusk, it’s not easy to see anything, but once your eyes adjust to the light, you actually see wobbling movements across the water, then a flap of wings. The bats travel so fast, that they are almost unrecognizable and almost look like small birds. “But birds are no longer out and about at the moment,” explains the city’s environmental officer Regina Hildebrandt, who is on the expedition.

At the end of the bridge, Klinkenberg unwraps a bat detector that can be used to track down the little flying mice. “When you fly by, the detector makes a cracking sound.” The small, handy device goes around in shifts. Everyone listens carefully. And some cracking sounds can actually be heard. The kids try to turn on their flashlights in the distance, maybe they can see an audible example too.

Nine-year-old Harris takes part in the bat expedition for the first time. Although he already knows a lot about the animals, he finds the visit to the bat area very exciting. He is not afraid of bats, although he has now learned that there are species that are real bloodsuckers. “But they live in South and Central America,” says Harris. Mother Miriam (38) also finds the excursion in the evening interesting. “I think they’re very cute too, and I always see some flying in front of our window.”

Finally, Tom Klinkenberg lures his guests to the river and asks them to shine their flashlights into the water. “If you’re lucky, you might spot some crayfish.” The children rush to the shore and light their lamps inside. Then Klinkenberg brings a small specimen ashore. Everyone lights up excitedly. The little animal jerks its claws and steps back. “Mommy, look, a lobster,” says a little boy, breaking out a few smiles. “Ui, he wants to grab it,” notes a girl. “I think it’s creepy,” said another girl. “Will you still be able to sleep soundly tonight?” asks an amused father.

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