Indian Flying Fox (Fruit Bats): Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, March 2023 — Not birds for today, but still flying creatures. These large fruit bats were roosting in a tree by the canteen at the end of the Keoladeo access road, right over the road. These are really big bats, among the largest bats in the world…weighing up to 3.5 pounds, with a body 8-9 inches long and a wingspan that can reach to 5 feet. Big bats! They do carry several diseases we can catch, and they feed on ripe fruit so fruit farmers tend to dislike them…but they may well offset any fruit destroyed by doing service as pollinators. That is still a hard sell if your income depends on your orchard. There must have been 20 in this roost. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Pro and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1EV.
Proboscis Bat: Panama Canal, Gamboa, Panama, July 2022 — I have seen Proboscis Bats from Honduras to Panama, and I probably saw them over the water at night on the Amazon in Peru. They live along streams and rivers all through the American tropics…and their unique roosting pattern…in a long line, nose to tail, down the underside of a branch over (or next to) water, makes them easy to identify. I have never been out with a river guide in Central America who does not have at least one roost to show off. 🙂 They are also sometimes called “Long-nosed Bats” but there are both Lessor and Greater (Mexican) Long-nosed Bats who already “own” that name. They do not have the interesting pattern of lines on the back that the Proboscis has, and are indeed both separate species. Sony Rx10iv at 207 and 600mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. ISO 1600 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Honduran White Tent-making Bats: Gaupiles, Costa Rica — when we go looking for the owls with Cope, I always ask him to find us some bats. Honduran White Tent-making Bats roost in “tents” they make by chewing along the stem of large heliconia leaves until they droop down on both sides…making a shelter where the bats can spend the day. They use the same “tent” for a few days and then move on to another, so the understory in the second growth forest where the owls live, is full of abandoned bat tents…the trick is to find one they are still using. Cope is in the forest daily, so he generally knows where the bats have been roosting and has never failed to find us an active tent. Sometimes there will be half a dozen bats under the leaf, sometimes, as it happened this year, just a couple. As you can see from the photo, the bats were not asleep…just hunkered down…but I was not the first one to photograph them…a process that involves getting down on your knees under the leaf without touching the leaf, pointing your camera up at the them, and then getting back up, again without touching the leaf (not aways easy at my age)…so we may have woken them from their nap already. At any rate, I rate the bat experience right up there with finding the owls roosting, and it is one of the reasons I take my groups back to Donde Cope each year. Sony Rx10iv at 115mm equivalent. Program mode with wildlife modifications and multi-frame noise reduction. Light provided by Cope’s flashlight. Processed in Pixomator Photo and apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 800 @ f4 @ 1/250th.
One of the reasons I like to visit Cope, the artist and naturalist in the tiny village of Flores, near Gaupiles, Costa Rica, is that he always knows where there are Honduran White Tent-making Bats roosting, and he can generally find them. Tent making bats make a tent to roost in by chewing along the spine of large leaf until it collapses over them. They leave just enough spine intact to create a safe space. The rainforest where they regularly roost is full of such tented leaves and it is only a matter of checking enough of them to find one with bats inside. These shots were taken in the light of Cope’s flashlight, using Anti-motion Blur mode on the Sony RX10iv at about 80mm equivalent. It is a slow painstaking process to get in the right position for photography without touching the leaf and sending the bats flying, but Cope always seems to guide the whole group through it without disturbing the bats over-much. I always ask Cope to find us bats, and he has not failed in three visits, but his real speciality is owls and we were in the forest in search of Crested Owl and Spectacled Owl, both of which he also found for us. Bats are just a personal bonus for me. 🙂
This is not the kind of wildlife Bosque del Apache was set aside to protect…not by a long shot…but it is wildlife that has certainly found a home there. This is, literally, a Little Brown Bat…which happens to be an apt description and its common name. Two of them had found a day-roost right over the main entrance door of the Visitor’s Center at the Refuge, under the overhanging roof, where, on Festival of the Cranes weekend, six or seven thousand people walked right under them. I must have done so myself several times before someone pointed them out.
The light was dim up under the roof and the bats were just far enough to require full zoom on the camera. This is a good testimony to the quality of the image stabilization…hand held at 1200mm equivalent and1/60th of a second. That should not be possible.
Canon SX50HS. Program with auto iContrast and Shadow Fill. 1200mm equivalent field of view. f6.5 @ 1/60th @ ISO 800. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.