He has been championing the bat’s cause, countering the reputational damage from recent events in Wuhan. ‘One cannot help but be fascinated by these gorgeous, delicate creatures,’ he wrote in the Spectator. He described a foray at dusk on the banks of the River Test, ‘just about following their captivating flight’, as they swooped over the water, hoovering up mosquitoes and other pestiferous insects. ‘Bats are indeed our friends,’ he wrote – and on several counts, too.
Every evening, as the sun sets, a long, black column of millions of free-tailed bats emerges from the dark mouth of the Bracken Cave in Texas, spinning like a tornado across the sky. They are heading for their hunting grounds, 10,000 feet up in the stratosphere, where they will spend the night pursuing and consuming legions of migrating, egg-bearing moths – 150 tons of them – that would otherwise decimate the cotton, corn and wheat fields of the North American plains.
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