《蛙文》/ Frogscript 5 • 郭少鳳 Evette Kwok

Japanese Frog for Frogscript_Thumbnail_2 FEB 2018

Please scroll down for the English translation!

《蛙文:蝙蝠》

郭少鳳著

蝠到、福到!中國人鐘意蝙蝠,借個諧音,「褔」同「蝠」發音一模一樣,蝙蝠一到,亦代表幸福到來,蝙蝠飛入屋,係好兆頭,預示家有喜事。老一輩嘅人都鐘意用蝙蝠做裝飾,細心啲觀察,喺啲懷舊嘅碗碟、金器上都唔難揾到蝙蝠嘅圖案。甚至有人會將五隻蝙蝠嘅圖案貼係門上,象徵五福臨門,好好意頭呢!講開又講呀,可能部份香港人仲記得,世界聞名嘅蝙蝠俠其實曾經喺香港住過一段時間。

同中國文化相反,西方人偏偏將蝙蝠化成神秘、恐怖嘅象徵,可能同有部份蝙蝠會舔血、蝙蝠夜晚先會出現有關啩,所以好多電影、卡通,都有意冇意咁將蝙蝠描述到比較神秘同邪惡。無論係邊種文化,蝙蝠俾到我嘅感覺係神秘同好難遇見嘅。

我喺25歲前都未見過蝙蝠,直到喺英國生活嗰段時間,我先第一次同蝙蝠打過招呼。嗰次係喺黃昏時,同友人一齊去Chatham小鎮嘅小山丘散散步。行行吓,友人指著一隻飛緊嘅動物,佢話係蝙蝠。眼前見到嘅係一隻棕黑色嘅動物拍翼飛緊,佢唔話我知係蝙蝠,我只會覺得係一隻雀仔,所以我要問過究竟,點可以知佢係蝙蝠而唔係雀仔呢?友人叫我細心留意吓佢嘅飛行形態。

眼前呢隻蝙蝠嘅飛行形態真係好似同平時見到嘅雀鳥有差別:平時嘅雀鳥因為身體係流線型,可以減少飛行阻力,係空中滑翔時間較多,飛行姿勢較為優美;但眼前呢隻蝙蝠飛嘅時候經常轉彎。原來蝙蝠雖然都係拍翼而飛,但來回拍翼嘅目的係獲得升力。蝙蝠嘅身手十分靈活,雖然佢哋不擅滑翔,但可以猛衝同埋急轉彎。

又間接解釋到蝙蝠並唔係鳥類,而係哺乳類動物:毛色同大小都同老鼠差唔多,又係夜行動物,所以中國人都會叫蝙蝠做飛鼠。蝙蝠另一個特徵係佢哋休息時,佢哋會倒掛自己嘅身體,所以係啲傳統建築上、如廟宇,祠堂都有機會搵到倒轉嘅蝙蝠圖案,又係取其諧音:「福/蝠倒」、「福到」,寓意幸福嘅到來。蝙蝠又有另一出色,但鮮為人知嘅特徵,佢哋係夜行動物,咁佢哋嘅視力係咪好好呢?啱啱相反,雖然蝙蝠唔係盲嘅,但視力並冇過人之處,但佢哋有一種特異功能:回聲定位,佢哋會發出一啲人類聽唔到嘅聲音,當聲音撞到前方嘅「嘢」或「障礙物」會反射返嚟,蝙蝠靠住呢啲回聲就可以知道前面嘅係障礙物定獵物,佢哋靠回聲定位代替眼睛,係咪好勁呢?!

但見完嗰次之後,我又冇乜點特別留意蝙蝠。直到去咗嘉道理農場做嘢,動物部主管就正正係蝙蝠專家,可能佢又係外國人,我成日覺得佢先至係為蝙蝠伸張正義、真真正正嘅「蝙蝠俠」。我仲記得有一次以蝙蝠為主題嘅夜遊活動,「蝙蝠俠」拎住一隻喺嘉道理休養中嘅受傷蝙蝠,佢同參加者講解點樣照顧受傷嘅蝙蝠,最後又點樣放返佢去大自然,進而簡單介紹蝙蝠嘅生態。

原來蝙蝠喺香港一啲都唔罕見,仲經常喺市區較大型嘅公園出現,例如九龍公園或荔枝角公園等等……不過大前提係要對蝙蝠有所認識,唔好好似以前嘅我咁,見到蝙蝠都唔知,仲以為係雀仔!我居住嘅村屋旁邊有一條電燈柱,喺天黑黃昏時,有好多昆蟲,如蚊丶飛蛾同埋飛蟻等等被啲光吸引住,係度飛嚟飛去。喺呢個時候,就最容易見到蝙蝠,因為香港有27種蝙蝠,其中有25種都係食蟲,佢哋食量相當驚人,一隻蝙蝠喺一晚可以食幾十至幾百隻昆蟲,所以除咗喺冬天,佢哋去咗冬眠之外,其他時間我都可以好容易見到蝙蝠喺屋企旁邊嘅電燈柱度開大餐。不過住我樓下嘅鄰居就對蝙蝠冇咩認識,我仲記得有一次我同佢傾開計,講到工作上忙緊蝙蝠夜遊活動,佢仲問我蝙蝠係咪好難見到,我唯有同佢解釋其實我哋屋外幾乎日日都見到,由此可見香港人對蝙蝠嘅認識真係好有限。

其實蝙蝠嘅到來,真係幸福嘅到來,佢可以幫我哋食好討厭嘅蚊,又可以幫農夫食好多農作物嘅害蟲,佢一晚就食咁多昆蟲,對調節夜行昆蟲數量起著好大嘅作用。頭先講過27種當中有25種食蟲,咁剩低嗰兩種呢?係咪舔血?其實全球得三種蝙蝠舔血,佢哋都係中、南美洲嘅物種,而舔血對象都係以家畜為主。香港剩低嗰兩種蝙蝠係食果實嘅,叫果蝠,佢哋好多時都間接幫咗呢啲植物傳播花粉及種子。蝙蝠其實為我哋帶來咁多好處,我哋真係唔好再誤解呢種動物啦!

Evette Kwok Bat Image

Frogscript ● Bats

by Evette Kwok

The bats are here! The bats are here! The Chinese are very fond of bats and, taking advantage of homophony (“good fortune” and “bat” are both pronounced fook), the appearance of a bat is a sign that happiness is also on its way ― if a bat flies into your house, it is a good omen and foretells the imminent occurrence of a joyous occasion. Members of the older generation of people like to use bats as decoration, and if you take a close look at bowls, plates and metal implements deliberately designed to look old-fashioned, you won’t have much trouble finding images of bats. Some people even paste up pictures on their doors showing five bats, a reference to the wish “May All Five Happinesses Be Yours”, a very auspicious sign! And on the subject of bats, perhaps there are still a few people in Hong Kong who remember that the world-renowned Batman lived for a time in this very city!

Western culture takes an opposite view to China, and they have turned the bat into a symbol of all that is mysterious and frightening, an attitude possibly connected with the fact that some bats suck blood and that they only come out at night. For this reason, many movies and animated cartoons, consciously or otherwise, depict bats as rather enigmatic and malignant. But regardless of the culture, bats gives us the feeling that they are both full of mystery and creatures one rarely comes across.

At the age of twenty-five, I had never seen a bat. It wasn’t until I went to England to live for a time that I had my first encounter with one. One afternoon at dusk, I went for a stroll with a friend in the hills in Chatham and, after we have been walking for a while, he pointed to something flying in the air and said that it was a bat. What I saw before me was a brown-coloured animal flapping a pair of wings and, if he hadn’t told me, I would have thought it was a bird. Wanting to know how he knew it was a bat and not a bird, I asked him for more details. My friend told me to observe closely how it flew.

Indeed, in comparison to the birds I usually saw, there was something different about how this bat before me moved. Birds, because their bodies are streamlined, are able to reduce the amount of resistance when they fly and spend more of their time gliding through the air, hence their graceful appearance. But this bat was constantly turning this way and that as it flew. Although, like a bird, a bat flaps its wings, it does this in order to gain lift. The physical coordination of bats is very agile: although they are not good gliders, they can dash forward quickly and turn sharply.

Indirectly, this hints at the fact that bats are not birds at all but a kind of mammal: the colour of their body covering and their size are more or less the same as mice and, since they go out hunting for food at night, the Chinese also call them “flying mice”. Another distinctive characteristic of bats is that they hang upside down when they rest and it is for this reason that you can find images of upside-down bats on traditional buildings such as temples and ancestral halls. This again involves is a play on the sound of words, since fook dou (“the bat hangs upside-down”) sounds the same as fook dou (“good fortune has arrived”), implying that some happy event is imminent. Bats have another special feature, but it is not something commonly known. Since they go out hunting at night, their eyesight must be very good, mustn’t it? Actually, the opposite is true. Although bats are not blind, their eyesight is not their greatest strength, but they possess a kind of paranormal ability: sonar. Bats make sounds beyond the range of human hearing which, when they hit an “object” or and “obstacle”, bounce back to them; the bat is able to tell from these echoes what kind of thing or obstacle is in front of it, and so sonar replaces their eyesight. Amazing, isn’t it?

However, after that one sighting, I didn’t give much further thought to bats. Not till I went to work at Kadoorie Farm, where the person in charge of the animal section just happened to be an expert on them. Perhaps because he was also a foreigner, I had the feeling that only he counted as the true Batman, fighting on behalf of these creatures for the upholding of justice. In addition, I still remember a night excursion centred on bats that we did there. Holding in his hands an injured bat that was recovering at Kadoorie, Batman explained to the participants how to look after an injured bat, how to release them back into the wild when they had recovered, and then provided a brief introduction to the ecology of bats.

As it turns out, bats are not at all uncommon in Hong Kong and can always be seen in those larger urban parks such as Kowloon Park and Lai Chi Kok Park. However, you have to know what it is you are looking for: it is no use being like I was, seeing a bat and thinking that it was a bird! There is an electric light pole next to the village house in which I live, and at dusk the light attracts many kinds of insects, including mosquitoes, moths and a kind of winged ant, which go flying back and forth here. At this time, it is easy to get a glimpse of a bat: there are twenty-seven different species in Hong Kong, of which twenty-five eat insects, and their appetite is astonishing ― in one evening a bat can eat several dozen to several hundred insects. So, apart from the Winter when they go into hibernation, I have no trouble seeing bats near the light pole next to my house enjoying a feast. However, the neighbour who lives in a flat on the floor below mine had no real knowledge of bats. I remember once when we were chatting together I told her how busy we were with the night bat excursion and she asked me whether bats were difficult to see. All I had to do was explain to her that you could see bats nearly every evening where we lived. This shows what a limited knowledge of bats people in Hong Kong have.

Translated by Simon Patton

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