Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Makarora bat survey

We found some endemic long tailed bats last night. "We" being some local DOC staff and myself, a happy and oft present volunteer.

Not in the bush as expected, but where the road looked out on braided river bed. These little critters prolific in many parts of our country many years ago maybe among the oldest mammals living in New Zealand.

A daylight shot I made on a DOC braided river bed bird survey a couple of years back. The view is very close to where myself and Ute found our bats...

makarora-river-1.jpg


They're about as big as a mouse and capable of 60 Km/hr flight and feed over vast areas [the rest of the time they roost in trees not caves].

The survey started on dusk in the sleeply nearby tourist stop, Makarora, on the highway to Haast...
makarora-2.jpg


In groups of two, we each we walked 5 Km split into 1 Km transects on the Haast highway, and used little black boxes that pick up the bat's sonar - the noise being like a static version of a mouse wearing shoes and running on a tin roof. This is the first confirmation of their existence since the the early 1900s. The gear I assume was borrowed from Fiordland National Park where they've not only found colonies in the Eglington valley, but captured some and fitted them out with transponders and tracked them.

It was too dark on our survey to make photos without a tripod, and besides time is of the essence, but this shot of us on a bird survey shows how we dress and also my good friend Stu, who thoughtfully includes me on these fascinating surveys...
stu.jpg

It was really exciting, and the walking was like luxury tramping as there were few cars and being on a road there was little worry with footing, then walking out of the totally dark bush and onto Cameron Flat with it's views of Mt Brewster, into the near full [moon] moonlight, was extraordinary.

Another exciting find some years back - one I was able to capture with the camera: a nesting Banded Dotterel [Tuturiwhatu] doing a "I'm wounded" dance, to lure me away from the nest...
tuturiwhatu-banded-dotterel.jpg

Many species compete for food on our unique and harsh braided river beds. Here local farmer and friend Mike crosses the Makarora. The truck incidentally sans floor mats and bungs so it'll fill with water and not float!...
mike.jpg

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2 Comments:

Blogger Bob McKerrow said...

Well done Donald. I am impressed with people who give their time to conservation issues.

Bob

February 9, 2010 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Thanks Bob. But much more impressive and inspiring is your work!

btw the code for my blog is not displaying properly, notably comments are not appearing in the right place either, but at least they're happening.

I've been shifting the blog to another server - an upgrade forced on me as I use a non blog spot address for publishing and Google are making changes to how these publish.

Cheers

Donald

February 10, 2010 at 8:14 AM  

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