This diary entry for 1st September concentrates on birds and bats. Viola enjoyed communicating with the owls around Gargunnock House, as we shall see in later diary entries. In this post she describes the sound of a ‘white owl’ in flight and then goes on to list phrases that transliterate what the calls of birds that she sees around the estate sound like. It is most likely that the ‘white owl’ that Viola sees is in fact a Barn Owl, as these are commonly found across Scotland. Although these might not be described as white when perched, the feathers under their wings are pale in colour, so they look very white in flight.
She then tells a fascinating story of feeding a Long-eared Bat.
There appear to have been quite a few bats on the estate as she mentions them in subsequent posts. The ‘common bat’ that she mentions is likely to be the Pipistrelle, which is commonly found in Britain and has the membrane at its tail end as she describes.
Sept 1. 1919. My Bedroom Window 9. p.m.
Saw a White Owl. When on the wing it utters
a sound, rather like the wheeze of some
one with asthma but rather harsher and
much louder. Also saw a couple of bats.
Talking of bats reminds me that
we found a Long Eared Bat hanging
by its legs to the wall about a fortnight
ago. I chopped up some raw meat as small
as I could and put it and the Bat on the
window sill. First it bit the paper the
meat was on and then let go and went
for the meat. Although the meat was in
tiny bits they were too big for it so it
took a bit in its mouth and chewed it
for about five minutes. I could clearly
hear the noise it made chewing. Two
bits satisfied it and it flew away.
A bat makes a noise rather like a
watch ticking. The common Bat is brown
with membrane on its tail as well as
its wings. The Long Eared Bat is grey
with membrane on leg tail and wings.
Principle food is insects.
Red Admirals and Cabbage Butterflies
are very common this year (1919) especially
The yellowhammer says “a little bit of bread
and no cheese” or according to Scotchmen
“Deil, deil, deil, deil, deil, deil, tak ye”.
A chaffinch says “Tewee tewee teewee tee what do
we do”. A grouse “Go Back, Go Back back back
Back back back”. A pheasant “Oh dear oh dear”
and when alarmed “dear dear dear dear”
The cat says to the pigeon “Come down
come down” and receives the polite reply
“I’m blowed if I do, I’m blowed if I do”