Bat photography..

Techniques and equipment.

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Postby tropicalbats » Nov 30, 2006 2:44 am

Ralph E. Powers wrote:Yes, thank you Keith.
So it is reasonable to say that it's alright (as in not as potentially damaging to the animal) if it's not during hibernation season, that is to say the animal is merely sleeping off it's previous night's activities/feedings during the spring/summer months.
I normally leave bats well enough alone as it is, and admire them from the cave floor and speak softly while in the area. I understand that whispering actually hurts bats ears because of the higher frequency (somehow that doesn't make sense but...).
But on that tact I wondered if the high pitch whine of a strobe powering up will be disturbing to the animals more so because of their sensitive hearing?

Yes, there are things that are more prone to disturb bats than other things, for example jingling of a ring of keys, but in bat photography it really is that flash going off, which is what we are talking about here. But of note, it has been shown that just walking by a colony of hibernating bats in a cave while being totally silent can wake them up (motion detectors note the activity well after the cavers move through). Yet we cavers can't avoid that at times, so again, common sense says to limit the disturbance and in general don't fire off your flashes unless you really need that picture for something.

As for bats in caves outside of hibernation times, yes, there is much less impact (note that the hibernation season includes fall swarming when they mate, which starts much earlier than you might think). That is, unless you are talking about the few species that use caves as maternity colonies such as the big-eared bats, gray bats, etc. Now you are getting into a major issue of whether disturbance will cause them to abandon the roost altogether. A very big no-no. So unless you can identify the bat to species, and know something about it, generally treat all bats in caves pretty much the same way. Don't disturb them without a good reason to do so.

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