Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bent wing Micro Bats

Three years ago as part of National Science week I took Eli to a bat night on Black Mountain. He talked about it for (literally) years afterwards. It prompted me to get in touch with the Australian Bat Society and they very kindly put me in touch with a guy from the NSW department of environment who monitors microbats in their habitat.

So it was we met up with Doug, and followed him the 80km or so out of Canberra to Wee Jasper. We've camped in the area before and I knew it was full of limestone caverns. In one of the caves Doug explained was a 'nursery site' where at this time of year bats give birth to their young. The cave was one of only three in southern NSW (the others are at the coast and in Goulburn).

Doug had clearly been to the site many times before and quickly set up his infra red camera and workstation. He was able to monitor the calls, the humidity and temperature as well as film the bats. Afterwards he takes the film back to the office, where a software program allows him to count the number of bats flying out. Doug explained that in this particular colony there were around 25,000 bats.

The bats started emerging from the cave around 9pm and we watched them for over 40 minutes. Doug told us a different spot to stand which meant that the bats were flying over our heads (and all around us) it was a fabulous experiece.

Most Micro bats roost in trees, but the Eastern Bent-wing is one of the few micro bats preferring caves. The kids loved the experience as much as me.

Afterwards we headed back through the dark back to Canberra. We spied a wombat on the way and loads of kangaroos which hopped skittishly besides (but not fortunately in front of) our car.

It was a lovely night out and one we'll remember for a long time to come.

The bats emerging

I didn't take this photo, but it gives you an idea of size

the kids watching the monitoring

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