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Bat enthusiasts gather in Central Park for ‘bat walk’

Posted: 11:05 PM, Jul 08, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-08 23:05:35-04

CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan — We are all a little batty these days.

With worry about mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, bats can be our best ecological friends since they can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour.

So PIX11 went on bat walk in Central Park.

Our group of 30 batty people each paid $40 a ticket to go in search of the nine species of bats in Central Park.

We were off like bats out of you-know-where, armed with enthusiasm, headlamps and bat detectors, which amplify the bats otherwise inaudible, high-frequency chirps.

"July is a buggy month, the best time for our bat walk," Brad Klein, our bat leader, told PIX11.  "Bats are good because they reduce the insect population."

Dusk is the best time to catch a glimpse of the only mammals that fly. These bats, by the way, are not the blood-sucking vampire variety.

And it's actually their echo-locating or feeding that we hear.

Our group of the young and not so young are all in love with bats.

"They're like a flying mammal and they live a long time," Audrey Dragan, 8, said.

"I had an idea to build bathhouses because they help our environment," said Lillian Freeland, 9.

Finally, after spying a family of raccoons, and high-flying chimney swifts and night herons, finally we heard the sound and the sight of bats flying both high and low at the bridge to the ramble of Central Park.

"Yes, we saw two of three bats tonight in Central Park and it's been a lot of fun," Janet Zapata, a new bat enthusiast, said. "There's another one."

There are four bat walks sponsored by the Museum of Natural History on Friday nights in July and they are old sold out.