There are plenty of good places in Thurso to get a pint on a Friday night. What we weren’t aware of is that there’s a thriving bat population right here in Caithness, just waiting to be discovered on Seawolf Wildlife 'Beers and Bats' tour!
(I was given two complimentary places on the ‘Beers and Bats’ tour by Seawolf Wildlife Tours in exchange for a feature on A Highland Blend, so this post is marked as an ‘ad’.)
The idea behind Beers and Bats is a pretty genius one. Our guide Jess used to take groups of students out as part of their studies. Now for 2022, she’s offering an evening tour to locals and visitors who are keen on nature and having an alternative Friday night out (and that’s where the beers come in)!
Jess has a degree in biodiversity and conservation and is an expert in all things bat-related. Beers and Bats evenings start in a local hotel. We bought our drinks (ironically no beers for us as one of us was driving and the other likes gin!) and headed to one of the lounges ready for the first part of the evening. It’s really informal but so informative - we heard so many fun facts about bats, the different species, and their behaviours. Jess also dispelled some myths and explained ways in which bats can be observed in our own homes and gardens – they are a protected species.
Then before heading out to Thurso Riverside just after dusk, Jess armed us with torches and showed us to use a bat detector – it’s the only way that the frequency of bat calls can be heard.
The experience of hearing and seeing bats in person was so much fun and really exciting. You can see the bats flying about, but it’s only by using the bat detector that you know that they are bats and not small birds flying about. It was so exciting hearing the clicks and distinct sounds of the species, and the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ of our group as we saw them!
As well as bats, Thurso River is home to otters and seals - I was lucky enough to see both earlier in the evening but we didn’t see any during our tour. Jess is always on the lookout though and will let you know if she spots anything!
As we have enjoyed living in Caithness for nearly 5 years, we’re used to seeing the obvious beauty of the puffins, birds and other local wildlife on our doorstep. However, it was Jess’s infectious enthusiasm and knowledge that made it such a good tour, highlighting the presence of these amazing creatures, relatively undiscovered by humans. It was also lovely to chat with other people about the local area and all the nature experiences that we can have in Caithness.
If you’re into wildlife (or even if you’re not, we knew absolutely nothing about bats beforehand!) and want a quirky, relaxed and fun night out, I’d highly recommend it!
Seawolf Wildlife Tours is run as a seasonal business. If you would like more information about this tour or the other wildlife tours that Jess offers, take a look at the Seawolf Wildlife Tours Facebook page or Instagram page.