The Nevada Department of Wildlife holds an annual Bat Blitz to survey bats in an area. This year it was centered at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, and I was delighted to be able to attend. In order to handle the bats, you have to get rabies shots, three of them, which I did. They are very similar to the regular flu shot.
Our first night was rained out, so we didn't get to put up the mist nets, but the second night we did, right where we were camping, at Hobart Reservoir. We had some triple high mist nets, which were very interesting to set up and see how they worked. The particular net below stretched across the reservoir outlet. After we set them up, we closed the nets (tied them shut) so that birds wouldn't fly into them.
Once it got dark, we opened the nets and waited. The nets I was at didn't catch anything, but the one at the outlet did quite well, and a couple bats were brought to our group so we could take a closer look.
The folks from NDOW were impressive with all their bat knowledge. I tried to soak up as much information as I could, such as how to tell an adult from a juvenile by shining your light through the wing.
With our nets still not catching anything, I wandered over to the other group, where I found a net caught in the net and biologists working to untangle it.
They were so kind and let me do the workup for the bat, which included checking its gender and age. I ran through a dichotomous key to figure out what it was.
We also weighed and measured it.
It was a lot of fun, and even though I was worried about staying up late, sugar and caffeine did the trick.
The next day we went on a pika training up near the Mount Rose summit. I had never been in this area and was fascinated with the different trees and plants. The western part of Nevada is so different than the eastern part!
A few folks saw pika, and although I saw some movement, I can't say I definitively saw one. I did see pika scat and haystacks, piles of cut grass that they eat during the winter. I guess I'll have to go back!
The next night we were looking for our next site when Bryan caught a rubber boa, which Meg is showing off below. It's a rare sighting.
Then we put up nets and waited for it to get dark. Right after sunset we caught a bunch of bats, but then it tapered off. I got some practice freeing bats from the net.
The moon rose and was quite bright. We also watched some distant thunderstorms.
Since the bats were slow, we played around a bit with long exposures and painting. If you can't find a bat, make one!
Just a handful of folks who were at Bat Blitz 2014. It was a great experience, and I'm very thankful to all the biologists who shared their knowledge.