The Batmen (& Batwomen!) of South Fork

Article & Photos by Joyce & Bob Hartmann

A Pre-Glade and Woodland Restoration survey was conducted at the Nature Center by Tommy Inebnit who works for the USF and Wildlife. Following this two-day session, he will return in the spring to conduct a “post” survey to see how the restoration affected the population.

Melissa and Thomas used four-wheelers to speed up the scouting process and look at more sites. It hadn’t rained for weeks; there was even a burn ban for the whole county. Then suddenly it started to rain…and rain…a real downpour. Three soggy people decided to continue to scout, and just set out the poles in several sites and put the nets up the next day. Everyone sure got soaked!

Mitch and Melissa set up a triple net across the old logging road as a second site. The poles had been set up the night before. Untangling and keeping the net free of leaves took a while. They attached the net to the clips and then raised it up to the top of the poles; the nets were invisible, practically, but with the bat’s sensitive echolocation systems, some could detect it. They set it up late in the afternoon but then a little before dark they lowered the net all the way to the ground, to prevent catching land mammals that would be out in the daytime.

Joe recorded the data, Tom (in the tee-shirt) is using calipers to measure a wing bone length, and Mitch (in plaid shirt) is holding a bag on the portable scale to weight the 2nd bat they brought in. Tom is displaying the wing; its “fingers” are connected by a web that appeared transparent in the bright lights. The portable lab consists of a simple table, data sheet, scale, calipers, bags to transport the bats in (each one gets their own, which is used only once), insect repellent. The bugs weren’t bad at all, though – that might have been not good for the bats…we did hear crickets and katydids galore, though…such a beautiful evening, so enjoyed visiting with all those biologists!