Special to The Mountain Advocate
To many, even the thought of a bat elicits screams. The sight of a “flittermouse” zigzagging through the night sky causes others to quickly cover their heads in the false assumption that the nighttime creature may take residence in their hair. The wild antics of people frantically swinging brooms at bats have been documented and even featured on You Tube and television shows. But for staff at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and bat and nature aficionados, these winged flying mammals cause goosebumps of excitement and exclamations of “sweet and beautiful.”
Come Saturday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m., Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (NHP) rangers will offer the park’s second “Batty about Bats!” Bat devotees or those simply interested in learning more about these wondrous winged mammals should meet at the Bartlett Park picnic area where videos and posters will provide a great overall tutelage to bats and modern technology used by park staff to better understand these flying mammals which ultimately leads to better protection of bats and their habitats. Three stations will help all grasp the roles bats play in the ecosystem and their importance to humans! At station one, an anabat detector will allow visitors to “hear” the bats’ chirps which normally are at such a high frequency that they can’t be detected by humans. Bat chirps can even distinguish bat species! Station two will be equipped with night vision goggles through which visitors will be able to peer into the darkness and make their own discoveries. Station three, the grand finale, is where a video camera with TV hookup and infrared will help visitors more easily see bats which will be harmlessly caught in a mist net.
As this program is being held at the Bartlett Park picnic area, it will be accessible to folks with a limited walking range and those who need assistance via a cane, walker or wheelchair. The picnic area is but ½ mile from the park’s visitor center. Visitors should access the Pinnacle Road; shortly on the right after passing the visitor center, visitors will see signs for the Bartlett Park picnic area and park headquarters. Visitors should bring flashlights and insect repellant and wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt during the hour and a half long program.
In case of rain, the 7 p.m. program will be moved to the national park visitor center.