Saturday, July 30, 2011

Return to the Bat Cave

Aside from trapping small, crawly mammals, I'm also interesting in the kind that fly - bats.

And, I'd also like to move the cam trapping ball forward on them. I know perfect photos of flying bats can be captured - the amazing Michael Durham does it with his eyes closed. But, I'd like to see if it can be refined using $200 homebrew cam traps, instead of $2,000+ pro setups. I've seen the Codge show some success, so thought I'd give it a go too.

Thus, once the bats returned to the bat cave down in the Tehachapis, I set another cam.

Here's the few serendipity shots it caught. Nothing good, but showing some potential. I say "serendipity" because most are photographed somewhat incidentally - the photographed bat happens to be in the scene 2 seconds or so after a bat or rodent triggered the waking of the cam trap. The cam is way too slow for direct real-time photography, so density or frequency of bats is a must if you hope to have one in the scene when the shutter finally snaps.

In this case, the mouth of a bat cave, as they're coming and going.

These first 3 shots seem to be a Myotis (thanks Codger for your help). Might just be Myotis californicus, the California Myotis. But, it could be Myotis ciliolabrum, the Western Small-footed Myotis. Like the Codge, I lean towards ciliolabrum - a Species of Special Concern in CA.

Buffy body, dark wings and mask, and medium ears suggest Myotis ciliolabrum

Side shot that may be the same Myotis species

Butt shot that may be the same Myotis species

This next photo might be the same Myotis species as well, but the head looks rustier, and the ears smaller, suggesting maybe a 2nd/different Myotis species.

Perhaps a different Myotis? Body looks pale, head rusty and ears small and dark

Finally, this last photo definitely seems to show a different species from the others. Likely choices are Myotis evotis, the Long-eared Myotis, and Corynorhinus townsendii, Townsend's Big-eared Bat. Both are Species of Special Concern that range into the Tehachapis.

Bat that appears to be brown all over with big ears - Townsend's Big-eared?

The technique definitely needs more work.

But as I said, it shows some potential.




  1. wow, that is SUPER cool. Already forwarded it to a friend of mine who works in a park with bats (almost said works in a bat with parks). =) I can't believe how sharp those shots are!

  2. Fascinating post. I wonder if they make some kind of remote attachment that could trip your camera's sensor ahead of time? Or possibly detach the sensor from your camera, move it forward, and connect it to the camera with a wire. All of which would be way past my own technical abilities.

  3. Yes, caves are wonderful places!
    Nice work, Ken, and you're having fun too!

  4. Thanks all.

    John - you're designing our ideal cam trap. We'd love a modular system that would allow for different types of sensors, cameras and slave flashes, but alas, that currently means moving to a dSLR and big bucks.

    But I still have a few ideas...


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