Two months have passed, since we published part 2. So here are some photos of how the artificial bat cave looked in July, August and September.
The cave is already doing its job because something is using the side cave as a dining area, leaving butterfly wings scattered on the floor. And a cane toad was sleeping in yet another opening. Caterpillars find places to pupate and little by little more animals use the bat cave. Hummingbirds are always there to inspect the newly cemented areas for minerals! The most frequent users are however ants but that is what we can expect in a growing neo-tropical forest.
Back to the work and the making of the bat cave:
The overhanging in the front was real difficult. I went up with a needle and thread to sow the hessian cloth to the mesh wire, to defeat gravity. It is hard to explain, but cementing up-side down was a real dirty job. And we had to try for the right mixture. Eventually we made a very strong sticky cement mixture with finely sieved sand and lots of cement and very little water. It could not be done in one go. But lucky for me, Justino thought it was a true challenge and he worked some more alone under Kees’supervision when I was in Panama city.
Yes there is some paint on it. It is iron-oxide. I used it for colouring cement pots (also made with the wire and hessian cloth method!) and had some left over.
And if you look carefully, you can see we added natural stones. Each of them weighs a few pounds so I have done my exercises. And I made a door. Initially the idea was to have a large “light-weight” cemented hollow stone. Yes indeed, doubled mesh wire with hessian (burlap) covered with the thinnest possible layer of cement. Justino and I thought we had learned enough after making those flower pots. The idea was to move the stone door like the ‘sesame open’ cave. Just sliding it apart if ever any person needed to be in the cave…
Of course that opening and closing has turned out to be very difficult, because it is heavy and a bit flexible still (cracking of course for being way to large). But we hooked it to the top (with an iron bar through a hole) and another thicker iron bar inside the door holds it up straight and into the ground.
Kees came to have a look and being ever so practical, suggested to just let it stand open. But then there is still too much light… He thinks we can put a “roof” over the door so it is still relatively dark and you only have to bent and squeeze a bit to get inside. And the steps need an adjustment.
First reaction? Help, that sounds like another enlargement …. But he is (nearly) always right ; ).
So Justino re-did the steps and I prepared the mesh wire and burlap for yet another day of cementing and some more painting on the other sides. There will be a part 4!