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SCV Outdoor Report: A Matter Of Timing

By: Wendy Langhans


A bat hanging on to the side a wheelbarrow in the middle of the afternoon – Photo by C. Grogan.

Who ever heard of a bat hanging from a wheelbarrow in the middle of the afternoon?

Yet there it was in Chelsea’s photo, a little scrawny looking thing, carefully gripping the wooden frame with its delicately curved toes.  Chelsea and her father, John, spotted it through the sliding glass doors from inside their living room.  Since I’ve never known John not to have a camera nearby, I wasn’t surprised to find that Chelsea had posted the photos on her Facebook page.  That’s how I saw first saw the photos, as part of my Facebook “News feed”.


Something was ailing that bat, since most healthy bats are active at dusk and the first few hours after sunset. Chelsea and John both had the good sense not to touch it, because even though 90-95% of sick bats do NOT have rabies, they do have sharp teeth and bite in self defense.  (And unlike the stories in urban legends, they do NOT get tangled in our hair, nor do give us West Nile Virus.)


It’s fun to watch the bats hunting at dusk during our monthly full-moon hikes at Towsley Canyon.  Their movements are abrupt and choppy as they chase flying insects.  Bats hunt by using their finely-honed echolocation skills, which work like a combination of sonar and Doppler radar.  A hungry bat can eat hundreds of flying insects per hour, something I especially appreciate on a night hike.


The world as seen from the perspective of a bat – Photo by C. Grogan

We rely on bats in indirect ways as well.  In the tropics, bats pollinate wild varieties of plants such as bananas, avocados, figs and dates.  Bats are also useful in tropical reforestation; the seeds dispersed by bats account for up to 95% of the regrowth in previously cleared areas.


In California, we have about 24 species of bats, 10 of which are considered “Species of Special Concern” due to declining numbers. That includes, unfortunately, this particular bat.  I hope his last meal was a good one.


For more information about bats, check out these websites:

Bat Conservation International

Desert USA

National Wildlife Federation Bat Guide



Upcoming Outdoor Events: 


Saturday, August 16, 7:30-9:30.  Full Moon Hike in Towsley Canyon.

For map and directions, click here

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Saturdays, August 9 and 23, and every Wednesday, 8:00 am.  Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.

Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout.  For more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Through the end of August. Wildlands of the Santa Clara River Watershed.  Valencia Public Library. 

Come to the library to see a visual and educational exhibit about our Santa Clara River Watershed and the 100 endangered, sensitive or threatened species that live in our valley.

Sponsored by South Coast Wildlands, Visual Journey’s and the Santa Clara River Trustee Council.





You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to



SCV Outdoor Report: A Matter Of Timing

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