In late July of 2007, Treebeard and I helped some researchers from Bat Conservation International and Southeastern Bat Conservation place data loggers in cavity trees in the home swamp. We have been monitoring these trees for years, keeping track of the species of bats that roost in them. The data loggers were installed to record temperature and humidity both inside and outside the trees being used by bats. It is hoped that the information will help researchers design better artificial roosts for bats that live in areas where cavity trees are scarce.
We headed out to the swamp today to retrieve the data loggers, now with over a year's worth of data inside, for shipment back to BCI headquarters. Nothing like a Sunday stomp in the swamp, climbing in and out of hollow trees! We saw plenty of animal tracks while we were out: fox, turkey, otter, raccoon, opossum, deer, and a bear. I think they have secret parties in the swamp when we aren't looking. Particularly the raccoons -- their tracks were everywhere.
Sometimes we check these trees using a mirror and a flashlight as Treebeard demonstrates...
And sometimes climbing inside is the only way to check out the cavity. This tree is a challenge because you have to wiggle your way in...
and then wiggle your way out. That's me coming out of the tree.
Here's a view from inside a chimney tree. The white thing is the bottom of the data logger.
If spiders make you nervous, then this probably isn't how you'd want to spend your Sunday. You do see the spider don't you?
But, if spiders don't bother you and you don't mind getting dirty, then you get a thrill each and every time you find a bat inside! The bat shown here is Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat, Corynorhinus rafinesquii macrotis. A truly awesome little beast. And that little shiny spot below and slightly to the left? Spider eyes! -- most likely one of the Dolomedes. So cool.
So, are you ready to spend a Sunday in the swamp with Treebeard and Swampy?