Sunday, With Treebeard and Swampy

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.

Ever pass a tree with a hole in it and wonder about what's inside? You might be surprised by what you'd find if you looked in.

Sometimes we check these trees using a mirror and a flashlight as Treebeard demonstrates...

other times it's easier to just climb inside, like he did here.

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?


Hugh said...

I cannot imagine a more fun time. Where does one sign up?

You have spectacular hollow trees. They're so, um, hollow. What species are they?

swamp4me said...

I do believe you would find it fun. Come on down! The trees we were in today were all tupelo gum, Nyssa aquatica.

Woodduck said...

You are two brave individuals. I would have to have on a Kevlar glove to put my arm in there.
No! Too afraid of getting pecked by a snake.
Have to ask, what kind of watch is that? It's unusual looking. Or is the band different? I like it.

Woodduck said...

I clicked on the last photo and enjoyed the view.
I might would peek inside after both of y'all had looked around for a snake. :~)

swamp4me said...

We do occasionally find a snake inside a tree, but not too often. The bats tend to choose trees with smooth sides to the cavities. The smoother the sides, the harder it is for a snake to climb up and gobble down the bats! We do find frogs inside from time to time.

The watch is a Timex Expedition with a leather band. We both wear them. We like the model with the fewest bells and whistles. This one has an Indiglo face so we can read it in the dark, but no alarms or other digital un-necessities :)

Crowe said...

Oh go on then. I'll spend a swampy Sunday with you and Treebeard next time I'm passing North Carolina.

swamp4me said...

You know you have an open invitation!

Crowe said...

You know, I might well take you up on that one of these days. My brother lives in north Georgia, which isn't so very far from you, so next time I cross the Big Pond to visit him, it would be lovely to visit you and your wonderful swamp too.

swamp4me said...

Just let me know when you're in the States. I think you would like the swamp.

Crowe said...

I will. I know I'll love your swamp - my brother took me to the Okeefenokee swamp in south Georgia a few years ago and we stayed in a cabin there. I totally loved it - got up a 5am and wandered alone along the plank walks in misty blue pre-dawn gloom, with gators around and bugs and bullfrogs being cacophonous, and I was utterly happy. And I love your blog so, too :)))

swamp4me said...

We've never made it down to the Okeefenokee, but would love to go one of these days.