Night of the Bat

Poster for Geneva's Night of the Bat

Natalie Ross
Graduate Student, Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

From Green Landscape Journal: A Blog by the Team of Landscape Architects Working to Redesign the U.S. Mission Grounds

Its early morning on Thursday August 12th and we have just one day left to finish drafting our sustainability plan for the U.S. Mission in Geneva. Inevitably our work has bled late into the night, as is often the case with design (there is never a point when something can’t be made better or more detailed!)  At around 1 AM the residence was quiet except for the din of mouse clicks and headphone re-verb.  Then a thunder of footsteps and screams in the living room jolted us from our Photoshop trances.  We all ran to the front entry to see what was happening, and found JJ crouched with her hands covering her head and colleen breathing hard with wide eyes.  Suddenly a bat swooped just inches over our heads and made a b-line for the stairwell!

The bat had come in through the 3rd floor window, probably attracted by bugs flying toward our lamps and computer screens.  Everyone in the house followed the creature up the stairs and closed off the lower level with the intention of shooing it respectfully back out the window, but that proved more difficult that we had anticipated.  Our various methods of trying to divert it toward an open window were waving pillows, holding up blanket barriers across the room and just making a lot of noise in general (which subsequently woke up the professors downstairs).

We knew that we needed to act delicately. Geneva is a very bat conservation conscious city, and believe it or not home to the Swiss Bat Center.  Of the 28 species of bats (called chauves-souris or «bald-mice » in French)  which live in this area, four species are in danger of extinction, and 22 species are in various degrees of danger.

Our night visitor was too mixed up to find its way out, and continued to swoop around and around for more than 30 minutes.  Some of us huddled over our laptops to Google “how to get a bat out of the house” while a few brave souls stayed on the 3rd floor.  Finally it made a low dive near Dave and he leaped over the couch just in time to trap in on the porch.  Success!  Unfortunately none of the windows on the porch were open, so we resigned to opening them in the morning when it was asleep.

But it doesn’t end there!  JJ was the lucky person to end up with a bed right next to the porch, and sometime around dusk the bat escaped again and started back at swooping over her bed.  In a groggy haze and wrapped in a blanked, she gently herded the bat back down to the first floor and watched it walk along the kitchen floor.  The formidable beast of Dracula fame seemed to her such a small and awkward and vulnerable creature as it crawled out the door.

We later learned that Geneva region will celebrate its 14th night of the bat on Friday September 3 with a host of bat oriented events.  In Chambesy, our own “Night of the Bat” came early!

More information about the Night of the Bat!