The Great World of Bat Images

The Great World of Bat Images

What involves thoughts if you consider bats? Mysterious flying shadows or blood-sucking vampires? The reality is that most individuals know little or no about bats, even when they stay of their backyards. Most wildlife photographers don’t pay a lot consideration to those misunderstood animals as they flit by. 

In truth, bats are the one mammals that may really fly, and so they’re additionally the second most numerous mammalian group, behind solely rodents. Bats are additionally among the many most vocal animals, utilizing these vocalizations for communication and echolocation to catch meals. Many bats show fascinating behaviors, comparable to making tents out of leaves and creating long-term relationships with each other. However regardless of these details, bats are sometimes seemed down upon as “flying rats” (though they aren’t even rodents). 

Commissaris's long-tongued bat Glossophaga commissarisi tongue
E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/8.0

It’s not widespread to get view of bats, and that’s a part of what makes them laborious to grasp. It is not uncommon to see them flying above with solely a silhouette in view for a pair seconds earlier than disappearing into darkness. However whereas working within the Peruvian Amazon, I began collaborating in bat analysis. This included studying to deal with them safely and take measurements. I used to be not solely capable of help within the knowledge assortment from a biologist’s perspective, but in addition as a photographer. Utilizing my macro lens, I’ve been capable of seize and present the tiny ignored particulars on the bats.

Canon EOS REBEL T3i + EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II @ 250mm, ISO 400, 1/400, f/5.6

A standard option to survey bat populations is utilizing mist nets. These nets are set as much as act as tall wall a number of meters vast, in order that bats hit the web and get caught in pockets. The fabric is extremely skinny, in order that bats don’t detect the nets with their echolocation.

This doesn’t hurt the bats – and, in actual fact, the bats usually destroy nets, chewing gaping holes and liberating themselves. After bats are caught within the nets, they’re untangled and extracted. We test the nets about each 20 minutes to get them flying once more, persevering with their night time of foraging with minimal stress. 

bat mist net
E-M5 Mark III + None ISO 250, 1/400, f/1.0

Knowledge assortment takes about quarter-hour. This consists of morphological measurements (weight, tibia size, ear size, and many others.) , wing situation, inhabitants demographics (intercourse and reproductive standing), and, arguably most vital, species identification. 

Many species of bats are tough to determine at a species-specific stage – typically even not possible except holding them in-hand. Identification can rely upon small particulars that may be simply ignored with the bare eye. Generally, the one distinguishing options are in particulars just like the cusps of enamel, what number of colours a strand of hair has, or tragus form (the interior cartilaginous construction on the ear). Macro pictures permits for a greater take a look at these particulars. 

Rhogeessa io, often called Thomas’s yellow bat, is one instance of a species the place it is advisable to take a look at small options to determine it. Simply to distinguish between the 2 genera Rhogeessa and Myotis, we have to take a look at the variety of higher incisors (Rhogeessa having two and Myotis having 4). Some species of Myotis are recognized by the location of their higher pre-molars, a really faint distinction. These enamel are lower than a millimeter vast, so getting macro images of the mouth can actually assist in identification. 

Beneath is a portrait of Rhogeessa io, a small bat with comparable wanting options to different species. 

Rhogeessa io portrait
E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/8.0

This portrait is of a species from the Myotis genus, very comparable seeking to Rhogeessa io

Myotis portrait
E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/7.1

Enamel are a key figuring out function in the case of figuring out species of bat. We will inform it is a Rhogeessa io and never a species within the genus Myotis by its enamel. Rhogeessa has 2 higher incisors, whereas Myotis has 4. 

Rhogeessa io teeth
E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/8.0

A better take a look at the fur of Rhogeessa io. Bat fur colour and the variety of colours on a person strand of fur will be a sign of species.  

Rhogeessa io fur
E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/250, f/8.0

Identification of bats will be fairly the method! Notably as a result of these differentiating options are sometimes fairly tiny – typically the entire bat is simply the size of a thumb. My macro lens serves as a wonderful software to expedite this course of. With data of the figuring out options, I can snap some images whereas somebody holds the bat, making identification faster and extra correct. 

After knowledge assortment and identification, I typically have an opportunity to take bat portraits. I preserve my macro lens and diffuser arrange in order that this course of doesn’t lengthen the period of time the bat is in-hand.  I attempt to change up the composition, typically specializing in extraordinarily small particulars of the face, then backing as much as get a extra full profile. If attainable, I’ll ask one in all my colleagues to carry the diffuser and use it externally. This offers me extra management over the sunshine and permits me to seize the very best portrait.

  • greater sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata sac
  • greater sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata portrait

If the bat is being held, I normally don’t need the particular person’s hand to be within the photograph. I choose the main target of the photograph to be options of the bat itself, not the orange gloved hand within the nook. However typically in an effort to safely maintain the bat, the glove must be within the photograph. Often, I can crop it out of the body later, or make a gradient masks in post-processing to decrease the publicity nearly all the way in which down. This focuses the viewer’s consideration on the primary topic of the photograph.

E-M5 Mark III + OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro @ 60mm, ISO 250, 1/400, f/5.0

After working with bats, my opinion of them utterly modified. I used to consider them because the flying silhouettes chirping within the jungle, not wanting twice as they handed in darkish shadows. However seeing them up shut shocked me like no different animal has. It let me observe distinctive behaviors I had by no means seen in different animals, just like the twitching of their nostril to echolocate. Even their texture fascinated me, with wings that really feel like a balloon and fur softer than that of most different mammals I’ve felt.

Images gave me a option to share this angle of bats. I would like these images to supply the identical sense of surprise and intrigue that seeing these bats did for me. Hopefully when folks know extra about these exceptional species, a extra nuanced picture pops into their heads after they hear the phrase “bat”. 

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