Bats, bears and a fantastic starry sky

In the nature of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern there is much to be discovered even when the sun goes to sleep.

Ralf Koch on a bat observation tour © TMV/Kirchgessner

Like robbers, we are sneaking through the woods. Our small group of night owls is looking for like-minded people, a very special nocturnal species, called bats. The leader of our group is Ralf Koch, a true admirer of the legendary nocturnal creatures. For many years, the 54-year-old has been the head of the Nossentiner/Schwinzer Heide Nature Park, where he has been responsible especially for bat protection. “Where they are”, Koch tells his astonished audience, “nature is intact”. Common pipistrelles mainly eat mosquitoes – but in large quantities. It is impossible to imagine what we would have to endure if the bats did not free us from these pests.

Nature reserve at the idyllic Paschensee © TMV/Kirchgessner

The ultrasonic translator

“Do you hear that? That’s what the common pipistrelle sounds like,” says Koch, holding up a small device that makes a strange ticking sound. The so-called batcorder makes the inaudible ultrasonic calls of bats audible.

Ultrasonic translator for bats © TMV/Kirchgessner

Reaching for the stars

As we arrive at a clearing in the forest, our breath comes to a hold. High above us is a fantastic starry sky, as clear and twinkling as it is not often seen. No wonder, then, that the Nossentiner/Schwinzer Heide will soon be chosen as a the first Star Park in Northern Germany by the International Dark Sky Association.

A glimpse into the brown bears’ crib

The next day at dawn, we head for the Bärenwald Müritz. Here, in the centre of the Mecklenburg Lake District, lies Western Europe’s largest bear protection centre, an animal protection project by “Vier Pfoten”. At present 16 brown bears live in the natural forest, which have been rescued from inappropriate keeping.

Bärenwald Müritz © TMV/Kirchgessner

As soon as the forest awakens, a concert of animal voices begins. For nature lovers and stargazers as we are a place of bliss.

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