You can get close to bats, or really close to bats, during a bat count every Friday night in Peachland.

Throughout the summer, people can participate in a weekly tally of the bat population that roosts in the town’s old primary school on Beach Avenue.

Beginning around 8:30 p.m. Friday, more than 1,000 bats will flap, fly and flutter their way out of the building’s attic.

Volunteers given hand-held counters watch different parts of the attic for an hour, clicking away as they see each bat emerge to produce what’s said to be a fairly accurate count.

“It’s a great experience for tourists and locals alike, a way to get close to nature,” Darlene Hartford of Peachland’s Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society, said Thursday.

For an added thrill, people often stand in the adjacent sports field. Since it’s well-irrigated, the grass is teeming with the kind of bugs the bats love to eat, and the creatures dive and juke through the gloaming.

“It’s not quite dark, so you can see all these bats circling around you again and again as they go about eating the bugs,” Hartford says. “It’s a way to get really close to nature if you want to.”

The bat colony, one of the largest in B.C., appears to have a stable population of around 1,000 creatures. So far, it hasn’t been affected by white-nose syndrome, which has decimated bat colonies in other parts of North America.

An anomaly was recorded last Friday, however, when the count coincided with the Canada Day long weekend and many families were present.

“We had lots of excited kids using the hand-held clickers,” Hartford said with a laugh. “So we’re not too confident in the accuracy of that week’s numbers.”

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