Meet the percussionist with a passion for bats

Nik Knight, Hampshires official bat recorder
Nik Knight, Hampshires official bat recorder

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BATMAN is coming to Hayling Island.

Well, not the fictitious cartoon and film character but Nik Knight, the recorder of Bats for Hampshire.

Nik, who once taught science at Portsmouth Grammar School, is the chairman of the Hampshire Bat Group and recorder of bats for the county.

In retirement, his fascination with bats makes him a very busy man.

Nik tells me that the Hampshire Bat Group was founded in 1984 to promote and support bat conservation and raise public awareness of these fascinating creatures.

He leads bat walks during the hours of darkness. These are not just country rambles. It’s all high tech these days.

Thermal imagers and ultrasound microphones and recording devices are used by Nik’s fellow conservationists to detect the flying animals and pinpoint their roosts.

Analysis software helps these nocturnal enthusiasts identify species.

Nik and his friends set up their stalls at local carnivals and fairs to educate the public and attract new members to their group. They have regular meetings and talks by visiting experts.

Bats are extremely beneficial to our ecosystems, said Nik. They pollinate flowers and trees. They feed on insects like midges and others which can harm humans, animals and crops.

There are at least seven species on Hayling Island such as the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Nathusius-pipistrelle, Daubenton’s bat, noctule bat, serotine bat and the brown long-eared bat.

Those who wish to learn more about bats should see the website hampshrebatgroup.org.uk.

Nik Knight is also a talented percussionist who is much sought-after by orchestras far and wide.

By coincidence, he will be playing with the Havant Symphony Orchestra in their forthcoming performance on Hayling Island.

Schuman’s Symphony Number 3 and Beethoven’s Piano concerto Number 1 will be on the agenda.

And, wait for it, by even greater coincidence, the opening piece of music is none other than Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Johann Strauss Junior.

Die Fledermaus is a real treat for waltz fans. In true comic operetta style, it has a totally farcical plot involving incompetent lawyers, flirting wives and their lovers, a fancy dress ball and a sexy chambermaid.

It ends up with one of the characters getting drunk at the ball and being dropped off in the woods dressed as a bat. Usual stag party stuff in Vienna, I suppose.

The Havant Symphony Orchestra is honing up their considerable skills for the next concert at the Hayling Island Community Centre on September 30.

The Bob Harding Bursary holder, Tom Griffin, will conduct his last concert with the orchestra.

To buy tickets go to havantorchestras.org.uk.