18 April 2011

unusual bat experience

This year we've seen quite a few Hoary Bats (Lasiurus cinereus) around Marathon and Post Park this spring; Matt even spotted one roosting in a cottonwood at work! After finding a dead one, we figured our adventures covered full range of Hoary Bat experiences - I've picked them up (dead) at a wind farm, I've seen them (alive) in the wild and I've seen them flying in the wild. Thankfully they're pretty distinctive in flight if it's still bright out!

Anyway, this photo is *not* a normal occurrence from what we can tell - it's all I could bear to snap one shot before gloving up to play in the cacti. Apologies for the odd angle, it was taken so the face would be visible, which was sort of from above, looking down between the prickly pear pads.

April 12, 2011

Matt had pulled up in front of the house after going to the gym, it was dark, a bat swooped down in front of the headlights.... and then didn't swoop back up. Voila. He summoned me outside, so I grabbed camera and gloves (mostly for the cactus!) and snapped the shot above before pressing down on the lower cactus pad. With one REALLY ferocious hiss, the bat took off toward the headlights. Happy ending!

I'm not sure if the bat sustained any injuries from the momentary loss of momentum, being suspended in giant spikes and whatnot, but there was no blood on the spines and my initial impression was that the wing membranes were not punctured. Can't say the same of the fuzzy body, but I hope the dense fur was enough to cushion the poor critter! There was just no way for it, on its own, to get lift without doing damage - and my understanding of their physiology, while limited, leans toward "can't take off from ground level" and thus is unlikely to be able to levitate from a mass of spines. I had grabbed a stick nearby in case its feet needed to be raised so it could take off from a hanging position, but apparently that was unnecessary.

Perhaps this cactus is on its way to being a carnivorous plant - beware the cacti in Brewster County, they're already trying to eat Hoary Bats, who knows, humans could be next!

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