Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bats in the Belfry

Bats in the Belfry by Linda Starr

If you read the post before last, you probably thought I was kidding when I said I was going to show you a real live bat, didn't you? You thought it was going to be one of those baby rattler jokes or something, right? Well it isn't. Once again I was inspired to make something from one of the many creatures I happen to discover here. This time it was a bat.

I see lots of bats flying around here at night and that's not so unusual. Some of them are big and some are small. Bats are real beneficial, most eat insects, especially moths. Some eat fruit and some pollinate flowers. Bats aren't blind but they do fly by a sophisticated sonar system called echolocation. The other night, though, I was sure surprised when I saw a bat up real close.

Our garage faces West and during the summer heat builds up in there. So when the sun sets I open the roll up garage door and the side door and let the breezes blow the heat out of the garage so it doesn't radiate into the house. The other night I was going out to the garage to close the door for the evening and I turned on the light and I saw a bat hanging from the ceiling. I didn't want to close the garage door because the bat would have been locked in the garage. Finally I decided to turn the light on outside the garage, and turn the light off inside the garage, to see if the bat would leave. After an hour or so I checked the garage again. The bat had moved over a bit but was still inside the garage. So I decided to close the roll up door and leave the side door open with the light on outside before I went to bed. When I closed the roll up door, the noise scared him and he jerked his body a little bit but he stayed put.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this bat was pretty big. His body was about six inches from head to tail. I couldn't tell how big his wing span was because he had them folded up. If you look at the photo on the lower left hand side, that little hand looking thing is his back foot. In the morning I checked the garage and the bat was gone. The next night the same thing happened and I had to leave the side door open again. Tonight I started looking forward to seeing the bat, but he hasn't come back. I'll check the garage again before I go to bed. Earlier in the week Gary said he found mouse droppings on his car. Now we know it was guano from the bat.

I really wanted to make a big platter with a more detailed bat, but I only had this small amount of black clay left. I decided to make a tile with a bat. Then I thought of the phrase, bats in the belfry. So that's what I made. A bat flying near a bell tower to commemorate seeing the bat in our garage. When I told Gary I was going to make something called bats in the belfry, he said, "That sounds about right". Wonder what he meant by that?

I often take things literally, like bats in the belfry, but it's a phrase which means someone who is unusual, batty, a little off their rocker. You don't think Gary meant that about me, do you? I have another idea for something to make with a bat, I better write it down. I just checked the garage, the bat isn't there and I'm actually a little sad. Be sure to come back to my blog again for a visit, because you never know what I might be up to. After all I am a little, well you know.


  1. Batty! Thank goodness it is what keeps me coming back.
    Again you take what is around you and put it to the clay.

  2. Hi Meredith, so you think I'm batty too? thanks though, I know you mean it affectionately. Did you see the peach cobbler recipe the previous post? - um um good.

  3. Gary meant it in a good way, I'm sure. :)

  4. If you draw 2 holly leaves side by side with their stems joining, leaves slightly slanting upwards. Then add 2 red berries at the base of the stems you get holly bats!
    I did them once for a Chrismas card they looked so funny flying against a black background in the snow.

  5. Hi Patricia, yeah sometimes he means it nice other times well, he thinks gardener types are a little crazy and now he thinks artist types are too he he. thanks.

    Hi Kitty, I'm looking for a pencil right now to try your holly trick. I do like holly trees or shrubs.

  6. Hi Linda, what a wonderful blog you have, so much fun discovering the unexpected in the form of a bat! I rather like bats,and am glad that you like them too. So many people are afraid of them, which is rather a shame.

    We have two sorts over here in New Zealand, the long tailed bat and the short tailed bat (which is endangered). Both bats are a similar size to a Swallow. For those who might be interested, here is a link to some more information:

    When we once lived at a forestry village in the North Island of New Zealand, a rather clever man, who was good with electrical things, made a bat detector out of various bits and pieces that did include a TV remote! We spent happy evenings walking along the edge of the forest at dusk, and Paul would point his electrical piece of wizardry towards the trees, and soon would come a regular rapid clicking sound. Shortly afterward, a bat would emerge from the gloom. The bat detector received the high pitched sounds that the bat made, and dropped the pitch to a range of sounds that we could hear. It worked really well. The best time of all was when we heard two slightly different sounds, and suddenly saw a bat chasing a large moth. The moth was twisting and turning in the air and sending out high pitched jamming signals to confuse the bat. It was like really high tech modern warfare. I think that the bat probably got the moth in the end. P.

  7. Hi Peter, how interesting about the bat detector. I read about certain moths which have a way of flying to deflect the bats from catching them, something about their moth sonar detecting the bat and then they immediately fly in a very erratic pattern to prevent the bat from catching them - much like you have described above. I will check out the link.

    I just went out to close the garage doors for the night. Of course now I turn on the light and look on the ceiling to see if I see the bat in there. Just as I stepped into the garage and turned on the light my bat flew in to catch a moth and he flew right up to me, a short distance from my face. He startled me and then he was gone in a second. I would say he was about a foot across with his wings open - quite a large one I think. There are others I saw tonight in the garden which are much smaller bats and look to be about 6 inches across with their wings open.

    I need to make another piece from clay with a bat, this time with white clay and then I can paint the bat with a brown slip. I want to make one that is very realistic looking with his wings open, and his ears and his little feet which are ever so tiny and delicate looking. This tile I have shown is more of a fun (funny) piece. Now I want to make something more anatomically correct. I think bats are so interesting. They are a mammal but they have wings of a sort and can fly, which makes them a rare type of creature. Now that I think of it - just as the opposum is also a rare type of creature since they have a pouch. I am really lucky to have seen both of these mammals now that I have some time to depict them in my clay. It was 108 here today and I fear tomorrow will be hotter, we are sweltering.

  8. He is so cute! The textured ceiling in your garage must make a nice place for him to hang from – I wouldn’t be surprised if he told his friends. : )
    I love that your work reflects the world around you!

  9. Hi Jewels, funny you mention friends. Years ago we had a house where the bedroom had a sliding door and I had left it open in the evening. I was lying in bed and saw what I thought was a moth fly by, but then my brain told me that it was flying too erractically I screamed Eek a bat! Gary was sleeping and woke up and we opened up the door again to let him out, about 20 minutes later another bat came in finally they both went out side, but we were wondering if we were ever going to get them out. Those hung from the ceiling. If you look at this one he had both his back feet and front wings up against the ceiling. So far he hasn't been back to hang inside. Thanks, it's really fun finding inspiration around here.

  10. Oh my! We have lots of bats here but they never come inside…I guess because we have plenty of caves for them to dwell in.

  11. Hi Jewels, I have no idea why he chose to hang in the garage, perahaps because they were some moths in there or something or it was a nice warm temperature. Behind us we have a rocky cliff and there are probably some places there for them, no caves I know about though.


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