Last night we went down to Verulamium Park to watch bats. That's the big park in St Albans with river, lake, trees, Roman ruins etc. It was also a marvellous opportunity to refresh ourselves with the occasional ale from different pubs along the way, but that's by the by.

At half eight we emerged from the Fighting Cocks (a contender for Britain's oldest pub, though a weak one I think) and sure enough we were surrounded by swooping bats by the edge of the lake, emerging from the trees. It was pretty dark, but you could just about see them silhouetted against the dim sky. There were a fair few of them, and sometimes just passing by your face, apparently oblivious to our presence.

VerulamiumBat

I took my camera, knowing that it was rather optimistic. I set to ISO 1600 (or 3200, or even higher at times) and f2.8 using a 105mm lens and quickly discovered that flash was an absolute necessity, not surprisingly. The on-camera flash (I don't have an external unit) allowed me to keep the shutter speed around 1/200s but still at super-high ISO. However I had to fix the focus manually at a distance about 4 yards ahead and aim extremely approximately with the camera away from my eye. It was quite impossible to see and track anything through the viewfinder, so it really was pot luck firing into the gloom as I saw one pass by. Most shots were of blank, black sky. A few included a small blob, blurry from both motion and incorrect focus. However I did luck out and get one shot that was head and shoulders above the rest. It's clearly a bat, though you can't say much more than that. You should have seen the rejects.

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