My buddy Alex and I both work with bats. Alex is studying the effect of controlled burns (a.k.a. prescribed fire) on bat activity. When properly implemented, controlled burns are beneficial to both the wildlife and the forest. Actually, fire is necessary for some ecosystems to persist.
Yesterday was the day for the fall controlled burns so I thought I would post a few pictures.
For this burn, the goal was to ignite the fire around the edge in a systematic fashion and let it burn toward the center. Here the guy in the background is spreading the fire around the perimeter using a drip torch.
If you are looking for “media grade” 100 ft flames than you will be disappointed. This is a controlled burn in the east not a national disaster in California.
After the fire goes through there is the long process of “mopping up.”
Water is used where need but generally a little goes a long way.
The fire leaves a nice clean forest ready for the new sprouts in the spring.
When many people see a tree like this on their property the first thought is “well, it’s dead now -probably ought to cut it down…”
Trees like this may not be the most beautiful but if you really take a good look they may be the most interesting. Study after study confirms that having a good supply of dead snags is essential for many wildlife species. Because many forests today lack an adequate number, many wildlife managers are now looking for ways to actually create them.
The tree above is part of my study on Indiana bats. We found it by locating a bat carrying a tiny radio telemetery transmitter that was roosting in the tree. It may not look that special but I spent the evening last night sitting at its base… At least 82 bats call it home -and did I mention that they are federally endangered. You may want to think about that before pulling out that chainsaw and ridding your property of every dead snag.
Lately I’ve been poking around in the woods with my camera as usual… but I’m not looking for pretty pictures. Graduate courses in wildlife identification are no joke. As part of my class this quarter I have to document the presence of a certain number of species of mammals and birds. It sounds simple enough… until you have all the easy ones and subtract from the number required. Thankfully, the snow has come.
I’m still not sure about this one. But the one below everyone should know.
Only one problem -I still don’t have enough.
I really haven’t forgotten about this blog; it’s all the fault of the keeled calcar below. (Just to the right of the foot below there is a small bulge in the membrane.)
That small bulge identifies this bat as the endangered Indiana Bat. She has been keeping us very busy the last week or two as we have been trying to keep up with where she’s been roosting, foraging, and how many bats are living with her. We attached a tiny (0.38g) radio telemetry transmitter which lets us follow her movements by radio (you can see a bit of the antenna in the picture). She has been a big help in getting this study off to a good start and hopefully we will have many more bats with transmitters out there soon.
She has been living here in this dead tree along with 8-15 other bats but there’s no telling when she will decide to switch to a different location. I actually found her snoozing under a bridge in the middle of the night on Friday. She left before I was able to snap a picture but there was another bat hanging out just barely visible in the picture below.
Finally, here is a picture of her face so you can see that bats aren’t really all that scary after all and how we should really be thankful for having them rid our world of tons of excess bugs while we sleep.