Guest post: Beeping Bats – running a night time nature walk

In our latest guest blog post, Sarah Cowie from Prestongrange Museum explains how she worked together with a countryside ranger to stage a successful evening nature walk in the museum grounds.

A photo of people gathered around a table looking at mice in a plastic box

Bobby the ranger explains how the live mice (in the clear box) scurry about

Thump, thump, thump. Hmm, what’s the noise coming from this box, I asked Bobby the Ranger. Oh, that’s a few live mice I caught earlier to show people tonight. Eeek. We have (unfortunately) had mice at our museum before, but never carried through the front door in a plush box! For Museums at Night this year, Bobby Anderson, our local Countryside Ranger, took visitors on a night-time walk around the grounds of Prestongrange, an industrial heritage museum in East Lothian, near Edinburgh.

Before we set off, Bobby produced great photographs, skeletons and stuffed animals so people could get up close to creatures like the fox, badger and bat.

A photo of a man and children placing a bright light in a garden

Bobby the ranger gets some help setting up the outdoor moth trap, a bright light to attract moths

Outdoors, we set up some moth traps and began to use a grey box with a black dial on it: “That beeps and tells you when there is a bat close by”, our youngest participant, aged 5, was able to tell us. Our group of explorers then set off with their torches around the site as Bobby showed us how to find different wildlife and creatures in the dark. I managed to see three moths and two bats. Although that doesn’t sound like much, people were caught up in the whole experience and gave really positive feedback. Many said that now they knew how to spot nocturnal animals, they would start looking in their own neighbourhoods.

My favourite facts I learned? Badgers eat peanuts; bats have the same route they travel round so if you see one, stand in the same place it should come back again within about 5 minutes and finally; adults get just as excited as children about seeing live mice in a museum!

A photo of a smiling woman in a blue top

Sarah Cowie

Sarah Cowie is Museums Education Officer for East Lothian Council Museums Service. Prestongrange, John Muir’s Birthplace and Dunbar Town House are their three museums. If you’d like to find out more, you can follow them on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube or via their blog!

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Thanks very much, Sarah! The East Lothian Museums blog is well worth checking out – I love the way that volunteers and students on placement also contribute posts about their experiences in the museums.

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