My first successful rehabilitation for Bristol Bat Rescue fell towards the end of the summer. As the real peak had just passed, and calls were starting to become less and less, I had started to gain a social life again. It was while catching up with a friend that a postcode appeared as a call to arms in the group chat. It was a bit further out than I could normally get to quickly but my friend very kindly said she would take me. This was followed by a superman spin and transformation around my room collecting what I needed, a process I've now worked down to a fine art, and bursting out the door with haste.
My friends car is quite old, only showcasing a tape player as entertainment, and only a lonely Alanis Morissette to choose, which was actually fine by me and so we drove out the city.
Once arriving at the aforementioned postcode I messaged ahead to say I had arrived, and was greeted by the finder in their pyjamas, stood at their front door holding out a cardboard box. As I've learned from in the past, the box has to be checked to make sure there is still a bat inside. Once open I was glad to a very still Pipistrelle. I checked it over to look for any injuries that would necessitate being put to sleep and once confidant none were apparent, I thanked the rescuer and left.
That evening I sexed the bat initially as a female, and named her Alanis, after our evenings entertainer. Upon the first feed she was instantly a finger chomper, so a good thing I was wearing gloves as always. She was quite feisty, a trait I always like to see in wild animals, as complacency with humans could easily lead to future problems. She fed well without too much encouragement, and I left her to rest.
That first week she proved to be just the right amount of cooperative, while still holding an endearingly frenzied feeding style. It was the first bat I was looking after over night. The next day someone with more expertise from the group was available to give an experienced diagnosis, and in this industry second opinions are essential.
I took it to bat carer Nai, and within 20 seconds of looking at Alanis she said, 'well, its a he'. Embarrassed for both me and Alanis I responded 'and so now its Alan, sorry Alan'. The rest of the check over went fine, and everything looked good to release. So the next step was test flying.
'So where do I take him to test fly?' I asked curiously. 'How big is your room, because you can do it home as long as you bat proof the corners so it can't get anywhere out of reach'.
And so it was that later that evening I went about flight training. To say I was excited to see a bat fly around my room and make sure its OK to release was an understatement, but that excitement soon faded. This is because after the initial few minutes of flight, that were mesmerising, I started to realise I was stuck, glued to watching his every move. Unable to stop him, or look away and do something else.
This lasted for 20 minutes before he landed, a good sign, but then when I slowly got up to collect him, he took off again, and so back to watching I went. Luckily this second flight was only 10 minutes long. I had been told he needed to fly comfortably for at least 20 minutes to show he is ready for release and so things were looking good.
I message my initial friend with the car, asking if she would like to see him released and she said yes!
Then, one week after he entered my life, we drove back to where he was rescued. It was a warm, dry and still evening so perfect for a release.
After building myself up to say goodbye to my first patient, I opened my hand and watched him take off and fly towards the nearest tall trees. He disappeared from sight awfully quick for my liking, but being hidden from humans is to his liking, so I can't complain.
Good luck Alan!
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