This strange winter got a bit stranger at Seatuck last night. Just as we were closing up for the night, a bat (little brown, I think) came swooping into our main office, did a few laps around the large room and landed on the wall. We opened the door to the office balcony (if that sounds strange, you'll have to come for a visit!), but it didn't seem interested in going outside. Instead, it fell off the wall into another series of gentle circles around the room. When it finally took a break, I managed to coax it into a large butterfly net. Then I stood on the balcony and held the net upright into the darkness. The bat climbed up the netting to the rim, perched for a moment (as if to say "do I really have to") and then leaped into the night. It did a few large swooping circles over our terrace before flying up over the building and disappearing.
It was a bittersweet moment. I'm always relieved to catch and release an animal without injury, but the prospects for a bat flying off into a winter night are not particularly good, even in this winter. The warm weather may give it a chance to find new place to settle into a proper hibernation, but there's no flying insects to be found, so it won't be able to restore lost energy. Given the devastation that the still mysterious "white nose syndrome" has caused eastern bat populations, every healthy bat is precious. I didn't see any white fungus growing on this bat, but it's unusual to see them active this time of year. Maybe our little visitor was just confused by the warm weather. Here's to hoping it's healthy and that it finds a good place to await the return of the real spring.
Here's a short clip of the bat in the butterfly net: