Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Brown Bat - Aleta Karstad

24 August 2009, Bishops Mills, Ontario

I don't often get a chance to hold a bat! This one came to us on the bumper of our car, driven home late last evening by our son. He says he didn't notice a bat clinging to the bumper, but we saw it there this morning. The right wing was broken but the eye was still bright, which leads us to surmise the sad story that it spent the night clinging to the bumper after it had collided with the car, and finally succumbed to shock and exposure shortly before we found it.

Fred said "Look at its eyes" - which I thought was a strange thing to say, as a bat's eyes are so small that one seldom sees them. But held at the right angle under good light, they were tiny, but lifelike and bright.

All my plans for the day were set aside, and I devoted the next five hours to a watercolour, about twice life size, celebrating its particular beauty of fine detail as the least I can do to save something of its "bat-ness", to faithfully render as much as I can of the vitality that this Little Brown Bat will have no more. To capture the delicate straightness of the thin, tapered tragus projecting from the ear, and to try to show the dense black whiskers that screen the lips, and the interesting pointed black eyebrow - and the texture of the leathery soft tissue of the ear.

It seems that "White Nose Disease", spreading north into New York State, has not yet been found among the bats of eastern Ontario - but how long will their colonies be healthy?
These flying mice are so precious - it would be so sad to lose them all!


  1. Lovely work, Aleta, and a beautiful post as well...I haven't had a chance to sketch a bat in years!

  2. A sad story and beautiful painting Aleta.

  3. Sorry your little traveler didn't make it. Your sketches have a gentleness and beauty about them that does him justice.

  4. This is wonderful and he is so cute. I think bats are one of the most interesting mammals.


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