It’s almost like getting ready for our favorite reruns of Seinfeld. Every night at 7:15 PM, we sit on the rooftop of our hotel (always at the same table, unless somebody dares to take “our” spot) to wait for the show to start. At around 7:30 PM, the first flying foxes appear in the sky, still at quite a distance behind the City Palace. By the time the first bats start flying over our heads, others have joined in, and soon, there are hundreds and eventually thousands of flying foxes silhouetted against the dark-blue evening sky. They all have one common goal – to feed on ripe fruit such as mangos or bananas – my kind of animals. It’s a fantastic site!
Because they are nocturnal, it’s not easy to to capture these creatures on film, especially if they’re in mid-flight. All that can be seen in the photo is a blur, but it shows the incredible number of animals.
After a couple of nights of watching the bats, we were curious to find out where they hung out during the day. A local sent us to Sajjan Niwas Gardens, a city park 3 kilometers away. After searching the grounds for half an hour, we finally heard them, and their high-pitched squeaks led us to a grove of large trees, each with hundreds of the giant bats hanging upside-down.
Close up, they look like chihuahuas with slightly longish, light-brown fur covering their heads. Looking at their faces, you’d almost expect four little paws and a wiggly tail attached to their bodies, but instead, you find a couple of bony hind legs dwarfed by two enormous leathery wings spanning up to 1.2 meters (4 ft).
After some time, a group of Indians gathered to watch us watching the flying foxes. The repeated questions “What’s your good name?” and “What country?” finally drove us off from the trees. But no problem, we just headed back to our hotel to claim our roof-top seats for the nightly show.