The keynote speaker for the 72nd Cape May Fall Festival was not a birder this year, but batman Merlin! His talk was on the evening of October 20, 2018 in the Grand Hotel with the theme The Incredible World of Bats. It seems as though birders are enthusiastic about bats as well. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with many giving up birding the following morning to attend his bat workshop. Participants had opportunities to ask questions and learn more about threats to bats and how to help them. We made many new friends for ourselves and bats. David Lapuma, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory remarked, “We pride ourselves in attracting the best speakers for our evening presentations, but this year was over the top.” We thank David and New Jersey Audubon for the opportunity!
Mr. Chang and mascot of the Formosan Golden Bats’ Home
Following 30 hours of travel, we spent our first day recuperating in Taipei, got up early the next morning for a 2.5-hour drive to the Formosan Golden Bat’s Home on the campus of the Sheng-Zheng Elementary School, where we met our host, 43-year-old Heng-Chia Chang. As a teacher, he had noticed beautiful little golden bats (Myotis formosus flavus) roosting in school yard tree foliage. (more…)
Merlin presented his lecture, Bat Pollinators of the Americas, to an enthusiastic, sold-out audience today at the Texas Pollinators PowWow, hosted by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, despite a winter weather advisory and freezing rain. He introduced a wide variety of nectar-feeding bats and their ecological and economic contributions to habitats from the Sonoran Desert of the North American Southwest to Central American rain forests, Caribbean Islands and the Andean páramo of South America, ending with a summary of bat contributions worldwide. His next speaking engagement, titled The Amazing World of Bats and a Novel View of Conservation, will be given to a plenary session of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Biodiversity Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on April 1.
Since finally returning home from a year of extensive travel on behalf of bats, Merlin has been preoccupied with final editing and photo submission for his new book, The Secret World of Bats, My Adventures with the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals (for release by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2015), writing to publishers in response to greatly exaggerated stories speculating bats to be sources of diseases like Ebola and preparing to launch a website (February 24) for his newly founded conservation organization, Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation. On February 28 he will be one of eight speakers featured at the 2015 Texas Pollinators Powwow, an all-day event hosted by the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. His hour-long talk (12:40 – 1:40 PM) will feature bat pollinators of the Americas, with emphasis on their ecosystem contributions. The event is designed to foster improved communication, awareness and preparation for resource managers to participate in pollinator conservation, but is also open to the public.