Rubber ducks help Peachland bats

“The Peachland Rubber Ducky Race is about ducks helping bats,” said Doris Muhs, of the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society.

As hundreds of rubber duckies flooded into the mouth of Trepanier Creek Saturday, the activities of Peachland’s neighbourhood bats got a bit clearer.

“The Peachland Rubber Ducky Race is about ducks helping bats,” said Doris Muhs, of the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society.

The event raised $1,200 for the society which watches over the 1,500 bats that have made the attic of the Peachland Historic Primary School on Beach Avenue their home, said Muhs.

And the dollars raised during the third annual rubber ducky race will be put toward the purchase two hobo temperature monitors that will be placed in the attic of the school, so they will glean more insights into what’s happening with the roost.

Already there have been cameras purchased with grant money.

The bats, explained society treasurer Borana Bach, have become a real asset to Peachland, and are increasingly a tourist draw.

“At last year’s Meadowlark Festival, there was one  event and this year there will be two,” said Bach.

One, explained Bach, will feature the soon to be implemented Bat House Interpretive trail.

“BEEPS Peachland in conjunction with the District of Peachland and the Peachland Rotary Club are working on a project to install bat houses on poles along Beach Avenue and behind Peachland Elementary School,” she said.

“(I’m) not sure when exactly they will be installed but it should be in the next few weeks.”

During the festival, Margaret Holm, program coordinator for the B.C. Community Bat Program, will take participants on a lakefront walk along Peachland’s new Bat House Interpretive Trail.

Holm will talk about Okanagan bat species and explain how bat houses enhance their habitat.

Particpants will learn the key features of effective bat houses, optimal bat house locations and tips for installing a bat house, then return after the two kilometre walk for live viewing of the schoolhouse bats in the attic via an in-roost camera.

Children are invited to bat story-time and crafts. Participants will then move outside to watch bats exit from the school dormers for a night of foraging on insects.

The second event will feature bat biologist, Tanya Luszcz, who will offer an interactive event on the roles bats play in the ecosystem, the methods and equipment used in bat research and the hazards impacting their survival as well as the conservation methods enhancing their survival.

Participants will learn how data collected in the attic of the historic schoolhouse, is used for species identification and how changes in temperature affect the bat colony.

Children are invited to a Bat Wing art lesson with local artists Wayne Power and Stan Meldrum, and bat story-telling and crafts.

Although these two events showcase the great amount that’s been learned about  the bat colony since it became a community staple in the wake of  Peachland Primary’s 2002 closure, there’s a lot more to learn. And that’s what the society hopes to do with some of the funds raised through events like the rubber ducky race and through grant applications.