Friends of Guild Park is hosting a bat walk assisted by Toronto Zoo’s bat experts and volunteers from Friends of Cedarbrook and Thomson Memorial Parks.
Guild Park & Gardens is home to lots of wildlife, but information about the bats that live throughout the park’s 88 acres remains a mystery.
Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program hopes to change that this season by collecting data about these nocturnal flying mammals that come out at Guild Park after dark.
Bats are unique creatures that “take to the skies on wings of skin.” That’s how Toronto Zoo bat expert,Toby Thorne, describes the animals in his field guild, Bats of Ontario. According to the Toronto Zoo’s website, native bat populations throughout Ontario are declining. “Bats are very important for the health of our ecosystems and the more we learn about their population trends and habitat needs, the more we can do to save them”
So how can we find these aerialist animals in Guild Park, as they fly in the dark and catch insects in mid-air?
Local bat walks are an effective way to tally bat numbers and support the eight bat species found in the province. Guild Park - atop the Scarborough Bluffs with forest and open gardens - is full of bat potential.
The next step is launching an exploratory bat walk at Guild Park. The evening walk will appeal to everyone interested in
Guild Park’s natural habitat and the bats it supports.
Toronto Zoo staff and volunteers use a simple, hand-held device to record the ultrasonic echoes that bats emit. On each walk, volunteers record the bat “sounds”, most of which are too high-pitched for people to hear. From the recordings, zoo staff can identify the bat species and numbers.
But it’s not all high-tech. Bat walk volunteers also use pencil and paper to track weather conditions, times and other walk information used in the zoo’s bat conservation program.To see all this in action and find out if we can find these night-time animals, come out to Guild Park next week.
How to prepare for the exploratory bat walk at Guild Park
Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear for walking outside in the park for an hour or so.
Flashlights and/or smartphones with lights are recommended, so is light-coloured, reflective clothing.
Bring a drink and/or snack with you, if you like (no food is available at Guild Park).
Since the bat walk focuses on tracking wildlife, we ask that all pets be kept at home.
The walk is weather-dependent. Bats don’t like getting wet so the walk will be postponed if it’s raining. An alternative date will get posted on-line.
Given the start time and how the walk takes place along park trails after dark, this event isn’t suitable for young children. For those youthful bat enthusiasts who’d like to participate, please bring along a suitable adult to join you.
Participants limited to 20