Sunday, February 13, 2011

A tree next to a swing bridge at La Selva was probably the best tree of the holiday. That's because, in the brief periods in which no-one was walking across it (causing it to bounce and swing from side to side), six bats could be seen clung to the bark in the shade. They were exceptionally well camouflaged, and you had to know where they were to see them.

 The Best Tree in Costa Rica (c) Richard Brown

Greater White-Lined Bats (c) Richard Brown

Again I (Giselle) was very excited by these bats. Reason the first; in England I have never observed bats hanging on the outside of trees in the daytime. Reason the second; in England, bats do not have crazy white parallel lines running down their backs.

So what are they? Out of 110 species of bat officially recorded in Costa Rica, we whittled these critters down to the title of Greater White-Lined Bat. It wasn't too difficult, as our guide told us what they were.

They belong to a family called 'Sac-Winged Bats' and are insectivores with wing-sacs. Whats the point in having a sac on your wing? Well, the sacs are used socially as scent marking organs.

During the breeding season, individual colonies are defended by one male. To attract a female the male emits a scent from his wing sacs. This is accompanied by a complex song which he performs whilst hovering in front of her. Awesome.

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