Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bat Watching

The Bat Cam: Tachyon XC 2010, Fenix P1D Cree LED

 An Area Set Aside for Watching Bats

 Further Explanatory Signage for Bat Watchers

I rode Bip out to a spot along the Arizona Canal where Mexican free-tailed bats live in the summer. They live in a man-made cave like structure where part of the Arizona Canal Diversion Channel, or ACDC, goes underground. The bats live at the apex of the triangle in this photo on wikimapia

I've seen these bats emerge before. They are small, fast-moving creatures that come out just before sunset to skim along the canal eating insects. Riding along the canal just after sunset is one of my favorite times to be out in the summer, so I've watched them often, and always thought, "I should try to photograph them some time." I recognize that as small, fast-moving creatures that skim the water, the would be difficult to capture pictures of, without more equipment and brighter lights than I want to haul out there on my bicycle, so this time I just tried the minimalist helmet cam and sort of bright LED light to see what that combo could capture.

The bats emerge from underground in ones or twos, and they are moving right along. You can see the results of my efforts below. When I was a lot younger, I shot 16mm film, and I had this light bar that ran on 110v, with four 150w floods on it. I think with that setup and the camera I had, I could get some decent footage of the bats skimming along the canal eating bugs. By the time they hit the canal in numbers, though, it was so dark that I couldn't get much with what I had, so below you can see a few of them coming out from underground, anyway. Get up. Go ride.


  1. Awesomeness!
    No Vicky Vail am I, but that was cool.
    That's a nice rig.
    I think though, the OSG tech dept. has to invest in night vision or some infrared.
    Think of the possibilities!

  2. The OSG Techs checked with the Equipment Dept. and did find a Hi-8 video camera with the required capabilities, as well as a video capture card that could theoretically convert the Hi-8 video into a modern digital format. This project is number 71 on the OSG engineering priority list.

  3. How about a short review of that Tachyon thingamajig?

  4. limom please see my first impressions mini-review. The part about rechargeable batteries seems most interesting to people seeking information.

  5. Is that bat poo on the signs or are the local birds registering their discontent at the competition?

  6. Steve A I wondered about that myself. Notice the skill and centering of both poo-shots? Clearly the work of a mockingbird. Evil geniuses, they are.

  7. Haha! We have tons of mockingbirds here, and I must concur. There's one that has learned to mimic common cell phone ring tones who likes to sit in a tree in the business district and confuse unsuspecting passers-by. At least, that's what she or he seems to be doing.

    I wish we had bat-explanation signage like this around here. Too many people are still insanely freaked out by bats, even though they are doing us a huge service by eating jillions of potentially West Nile virus-carrying 'skeeters.'

  8. koko we had one mock who did a great multi-tone car alarm. He also did a good weed whacker. I love the bats. I am working on following up on limom's suggestions (project #71).


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