Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Alien Abduction

I always imagine that the bats that are caught in my net go back to their roost to tell the other bats of their abduction.  They probably tell their buddies that they were just flying along, on their normal foraging route, when they were trapped in an invisible force field!  After struggling in vain against the force field, a blinding bright light approached from the distance.  They were taken up in a floating capsule, then measured, prodded, and violated by unseen beings with flashing lights and cold metal instruments before being released unharmed, but traumatized.  "Guys, seriously, do not fly down Stinking Creek tonight!"

The imagined force field is the net, called a mist net, because it is nearly transparent and made of extremely fine threads, similar to a hair net that the lunch lady wears.  I wear a very bright headlamp to keep my hands free, so I have a bright beam of light in the center of my forehead.  I see the poor bats blinking their eyes in the bright light, and most just close their eyes against the glare.  Working with other folks who are wearing headlamps makes me realize just how bright the light is.  When my netting partner looks at me in the face all I can see is the bright glow, so I know the bats can't see my face or know what has them.  After I untangle the bats from the net/force field, I put them in a paper bag to carry them back to our work station, like the big brown bat and the red bat in the photos above.  This must be strange experience for a bat, to be in a crinkly dark paper capsule that is floating through the air.   I weigh them while they are in the bag, take some measurements to verify which species, examine their breasts and private parts to see what reproductive stage they are in, look closely at their wing membranes to see if they are sick, take their picture with a flashing camera, then let them go.  It only takes a few minutes. 

I think I have finally figured out how to make youtube videos that I can post without giving my self an aneurysm as I strain my tiny computer brain muscles.   Check out the above video that I made last night of a big brown bat being released after he was caught in my nets. 

This video shows just how feisty some of the bats are when they are captured.  I'm holding him very gently, so he's not squawking in pain, he's fighting for his life.  Turn the sound up so you can hear the noises he makes.  Poor fella, he's not giving up though.  Some of the bats, like the red bat in the video below, just calmly bear the intrusion. 


I hope that the bats who experienced the alien abduction aren't shunned by their buddies.  Hmmm... maybe those human abduction stories shouldn't be ignored!  And who is a better candidate for some alien probes than a lone bat survey team out in the woods in the middle of the night...

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