Audubon adventure walk turns batty

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BRISTOL—"It swooped at my grandmother, ducked down under the bridge and landed in the mucky water," said Sarah Coutu, 9, of Pawtucket, who was standing on board walk behind the Audubon Society in Bristol during a "Choose your own adventure" walk on Wednesday morning. Audubon instructor Chloe Fandel and her adventurers, consisting of children, parents and grandparents went on a nature walk to inspect bugs, smell the flowers, and search for snakes. The group had found five garter snakes near a small swamp along the bike path and were thoroughly enjoying the day.

"Wow, there's another one," said Colin Weldon, 10, of Warren "this is cool."

That's when Sarah Coutu and her family came strolling up the board walk on a hike of their own. "We come here often to look at birds. Sarah wants to be an Ornithologist, a bird scientist," said Sarah's mom.

Just as they reached the bike path a bat came diving down upon them. Screams were heard. The bat swerved to miss them spun into the railing and dropped into the water.

"A bat," Sarah screamed out, "It flew into the water."

Immediately all eyes from the adventurers went from the snakes to the water. The bat, once in the water, fluttered desperately trying to stay a float, as it attempted to make its way towards the shore. But the green colored muck became too much and for it and it started to struggle.

That's when the adventurers sprung into action.

"I'm going to have to go in and get it," said Ms. Fandel, as she began to take off some items to nice for the swamp she was about to enter. "Can I have a volunteer to go up the board walk and get a net?"

"I can," volunteered the boys in the group.

Once the net was brought to her, Ms. Fandel waded into the green slime and reached out for the drowning bat. She scooped it up and brought it to shore. The adventurers got out there cameras and phones to take pictures of the tired mammal. After a brief viewing session the group, getting more than they bargained for, brought the bat to the Audubon center to see if they could save it.

"We can't really treat a possibly rabid animal, all we can really do is dry it off, monitor it and see how it develops," said Audubon director Anne DiMonti.

As for Ms. Fandel, "She was really brave. The water smelled really bad," said Sarah, stating, "We were lucky that she was there at just the right time."

Later that day the Audubon Society released the bat back into it's habitat.

"We gave him time to rest and dry out in an animal carrier," said Ms. Dimonti. "As he dried out he spruced up then we sent him on his merry way," she said.

 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.