Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 1st September 1919

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


Page 4


are very common this year (1919) especially

the former.


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”