Bats, bats, bats…and more bats

I suppose we’ve all wondered how a bat goes to the toilet.

Oh? Just me then…should have known.

Anyway, they just let go, so to speak, while hanging there, upside down. Bat splutter is not a sound I’m familiar with, but I assume it happens, or not.

I did learn some other facts in Dudley Zoo’s bat cave, I just can’t seem to remember them.

Stourbridge News chief reporter Bev Holder was doing a story on bat feeding, and I was taking the pictures. Did I need any special equipment, I was asked. No idea , I thought, and if I did I probably didn’t have it.

What could go wrong?

Calamite. Catastrophe. Hilarite. The Loach family motto.

Throw an infinite number of cream pies into an infinite number of faces, something has to land on the nose. Maybe.

Not knowing anything about the location (pitch black, as it happens) or proximity of the bats, I decided on machine gun tactics. Staccato bursts of flash and frantic focussing would see me through. Not a hope.

My granddaughter, while climbing in woodland a few months ago, misjudged her final lunge at the top of a slope, and nearly came a cropper. “EPIC FAIL” she informed me. Only five and knows about EPIC FAIL.

I decided to have a go at EPIC FAIL. Turns out I’m ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT AT IT. A Natural.

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For protection, I’d been issued with a pair of one size fits nobody yellow gloves. The sort that people with small hands wear.

I got most of my fingers into most of the gloves’ fingers, in almost all the right order. With my hands looking like something that could exist and procreate quite happily at the bottom of the world’s deepest oceans, I set my camera to manual focussing mode, doused my shoes with disinfectant, and followed Bev and Cara the keeper into the humid blackness that was home to eighty creatures of the night.

Almost immediately, but unbeknown to me at the time, one of my Fingers from the Deep made a bee-line for the controls on my Nikon, and reset a couple of switches from Manual Control to Auto-Failure.

The next half hour was full of feathery brushes with those things that can see in the dark, frenetic flash firing that reminded me of the bridge scene in Apocalypse Now, and the slightly unsettling thought that at any minute a bat was going to pooh on my head.

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I had no idea what I was getting, the camera was making it’s own mind up what to  focus on, and the vast majority of the pix were wildly unsharp. Even on a 24mm wide angle.

With judicious cropping and sharpening, I managed to salvage a dozen or so shots from over a hundred taken.

I might have to go back one day with purely manual lenses.

But now I had to drive thirty miles down the motorway to Redditch, to photograph a man holding a watch.

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Now what could go wrong there…?

This entry was posted in Editorial/Press.

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