flying rats with radar

this friday and saturday, i attended this year’s GEO-Tag der Artenvielfalt (“biodiversity day”, organized by the magazine GEO).
it took place in kaunerberg/kaunertal valley – a village with about 300 residents, at a height of 1300m.
75 experts from many fields of biology participated, with a common goal: to classify as many species as possible within 24 hours.
(this post only deals with friday, there will be a separate one about saturday!)

my task was helping toni vorauer, adept in bats.

they’re only rats with wings.
and radar.
just flying rats with radar.

the brown long-eared bat (plecotus auritus) although weather conditions were suboptimal, we caught 7 bats from 3 species: the common pipistrelle (pipistrellus pipistrellus, zwergfledermaus), the whiskered bat (myotis mystacinus, kleine bartfledermaus) and the brown long-eared bat (plecotus auritus, braunes langohr);
they were shown to the curious visitors, weighed and measured, and then we cooked them in a brunée sauce with charlottes and aubergines. just kidding – we didn’t weigh them :wink:

ok, back to a more serious kind of telling.
vera, toni and i set up over 40 meters of webs. they consisted of very thin threads, so the bats wouldn’t notice them with their ultrasonic sense.
while toni held a presentation for the numerous interested visitors, vera and i checked the webs and collected the bats.
out of the 7 bats we caught, the one whiskered bat was …special. it was so agressive and just kept biting me – so it took me several minutes to extricate it. memo to self: get checked for rabies!

bats are really cute animals, once you eyeball them. if you ever have the chance to, go visit a bat-night and find out yourself!

this weekend, i learned a lot about bats!
and apart from the little flying mammals, it was cool to be with “in-the-field” biologists who share my admiration of nature.

information (and photos) on the second day will follow…

[view photos: flying rats with radar]
btw, i shot most of the pix with sony’s nightshot mode. that’s why they’re pretty much black&white…

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