I live in a place called Panvel which is about 50 kilometers away from Mumbai. I am serving in ONGC and am not the original inhabitant of the place. But I have lived in this place for the past 16 years. This place has rich history. Its municipal corporation is the oldest in the Maharastra. It is a junction for going to Goa, Pune, South India. It is full of geographic features. Hills dot the panorama all around. There are many rivulets. It is on the sea coast. The soil is hard and rocky and is not fertile. Once upon a time, Shiva Ji, the great Maratha King, had a jetty and naval unit here. The express highway going to Pune crosses this city.

Today, when I was on my way to home from my office, it was getting almost dark but still it was twilight. Street lights have not come up yet. It is November and the weather is getting slightly cooler in the mornings and evenings. By the standards of North India this cannot be called cool. For some reason, I was not feeling like going to home.

What a person do in such settings? I was looking towards the heavens. There were stars here and there. If you continue to look longer and concentrate at a particular location in the sky, the stars seem to being born like the seeds sprouting. Soon the whole sky will be covered with the crop of stars.

Anyway, leave aside this poetical musings. I noticed a very strange phenomena. Huge bats, the size of big crows, were heading towards the colony from Panvel city side. Some of them were flying so high and crossed the colony trees which are in plenty. Though I was quite sure about the identity of these creatures, I for a moment confused them with crows. Also, I thought that they may be some stray animals. But they kept coming. As I reached beneath the big tress-again I am sorry I don’t know the name-some of the them were landing on the branches of these trees. Some were making sorties between the trees. There were sounds of nibbling and falling of the partially eaten fruits which these trees bear. These fruits are not palatable to humans, but they are favorites of parrots in the day time and bats in the night. You will always find the partially eaten fruits beneath the trees.

These bats were not of the small size usually found in the cities which were also there in few numbers in the trees.  These might be Indian flying fox variety which gorge themselves on fruits. It is known that these bats live in the coastal areas which are many here because the Panvel is coastal area. I suspect that these bats must be sleeping inside some holes of older trees or rocks and visiting for food in the night on the trees in our colony and beyond where there are more trees in the rural areas. Because our night is day for them and our day is night for them.

The bats are true flying mammals belonging to chiropetera order. Forelimbs have developed into webbed wings making them unique mammals capable of sustained flight in contrast to flying squirrels, possums which don’t fly but glide in air for short distances as the distance between two trees. I have seen the squirrels in Assam jumping a distance of about 8 feet from one tree to another.

Bats are awe inspiring creatures and frequently mentioned in literature especially mythology. There are vampire bats whose diet is blood. They suck the blood from the animals like buffaloes during night time. Bats locate their pray through the echolocation technology which is also employed by dolphins and whales.

There are certain moths, tiger moths to be precise, which also emit ultrasounds  by clicking warning the bats that they are chemically protected and thus fool them and avoid being becoming the food of bats.  I think I will look for them again tomorrow to confirm there activity.

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