Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 18th August 1920

Although Viola obviously loves nature and the animals she sees in it, she is not at all sentimental about the creatures that she observes. She is clearly extremely curious about everything to do with wildlife and eager to find out more. In this entry, she describes finding long-eared bats in the attic of Gargunnock House after they were disturbed by roofing work. As well as observing these creatures, she catches and kills some for the purpose of stuffing them. Taxidermy was a popular pastime in the early 20th century and Viola would have grown up with stuffed trophies from hunting all around her at Gargunnock House. Although her attitude to the struggles of the poor creatures appears rather heartless to our sensibilities, she would not have been unusual in doing this at the time.

The bats that she describes are probably Brown Long-Eared Bats, commonly found across Europe and the UK. They hunt their prey using their large ears and eyes rather than by echolocation as other bats do. They roost in roof spaces and trees and hunt in woodland areas at night for moths and other small insects. Read more about Brown Long-Eared bats here.

Aug. 18th 9.35 a.m. Smoking room

There have been bats in the rafters lately but

the slaters were up there & frightened them away

We hunted & killed three which I stuffed. They

prooved to be good specimens of long eared bats.

The[y] fought & spat & kicked & scratched & bit most

ferociously after we knocked them down. There

must have been about 60 up there.