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Na na na na na na na na Batfest!

Posted on August 6th 2009 by Amy in Events, Forest Preserves, Nature

Last Saturday we attended Batfest, a celebration of bats by the Lake County Forest Preserve District held at Lakewood Forest Preserve.

Quiet Please. Bats Sleeping!

Years ago two large picnic shelters were built at the preserve, which local Little Brown Bats found to be great places to roost. Picnicking humans were not happy to find guano on their picnic tables and dropping into their food, so the district decided to rezone the shelters – one for people and one for the bats. The picnic shelter was modified to be less appealing to bats and the bat shelter was cordoned off so people would not disturb the roosting bats.

Bat Shelter

The large colony of Little Brown Bats at Lakewood made it a perfect spot for Batfest. There were several tables set up at the preserve with exhibits about the bats of Illinois, making bat houses and other neat bat information. There were also two presentations by bat experts, one of whom brought a couple of her rehabilitation and education bats to show to attendees. During these presentations we learned a lot of neat facts about bats, including:

  • There are over 1000 species of bat
  • A bat’s claws are naturally in a curled state. They use their muscles to uncurl the claws in order to grab onto a perch, and then relax to remain clamped on
  • All bats can see
  • Vampire bats’ saliva contains a substance which prevents clotting
  • Vampire bats will share their food with other bats who are hungry and unable to get food for themselves
  • Bats are an important pollinator for one of the ingredients used to make tequila (when this was mentioned, the crowd murmured ‘thank you, bats’)

After the two informative presentations, darkness began to fall and it was time to look for bats. Everyone gathered around the shelter. It was a huge crowd: bats are popular here in Lake County!

Huge crowd at Batfest

Researchers set up a mist net to capture bats as they left the shelter for the evening. Since the crowd was so large they had live camera which was projected onto a huge screen to capture the action in case a bat was caught. Soon after the first bat was spotted leaving the roost, another bat was caught in the net. She was brought in front of the camera and the brief examination was shown on the screen. It was neat to see the bat expert show features of the animal that helped her determine the age and sex of the bat. The exam reminded me of the bird ringing we observed recently, but the image on the screen reminded me of MST3K:

MST3K Bat

Batfest was another great program put on by our Lake County Forest Preserve District. If you want to learn more about bats, visit Bat Conservation International.

St Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago

Posted on March 17th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Events, Illinois, Life in America

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!! Last Saturday we went to downtown Chicago to witness the Chicago River going green and after that we walked to Grant Park for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which started at noon. The parade lasted for about 3 hours, which was really too long, but it was still fun. Lots of groups gave out free stuff (like green hats, beads, candy, etc.) and it was a sport trying to get as much as you can (we didn’t get much though).

Chicago St Pat Day 2009 088 (14-Mar)

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Chicago River Goes Green

Posted on March 14th 2009 by Arthur in Chicago, Events, Illinois

Today we traveled to Chicago by Metra train for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the dying of the Chicago River! We arrived at Union Station at 8:30 and walked around Millennium Park a bit before heading to the river, which was scheduled to be greenified at 10:45. The riverside east of Michigan Avenue Bridge was packed with thousands of people in green hats, green wigs, green t-shirts and green everything.

Chicago St Pat Day 2009 054 (14-Mar)
Chicago Riverwalk

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Happy Holi!

Posted on March 12th 2009 by Amy in Events, Travel

Today marks the day when India plays Holi. Holi is the festival of colors and we had a lot of fun when we were in India during Holi in 2006. This Bollywood music video gives you an idea of the chaos that is Holi.

Vogelfestival 2007

Posted on August 26th 2007 by Arthur in Birds, Events, Life in Holland, Nature

Yesterday we visited the annual Vogelfestival (“Bird Fair”), organised by the Dutch State Forestry, SOVON and Vogelbescherming Nederland, the Dutch partner of BirdLife International. It is a major event for bird and birding enthusiasts and is modelled after the British Birdfair held in Rutland Water. The annual Dutch event has grown to include over 100 exhibitors and is attended by more than 15,000 visitors. The fair is held at the Oostvaardersplassen, an important nature reserve (see also our visit there in March 2007).

Vogelfestival 2007

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