Furry Flier

FTLComm - Red Earth - June 18, 1999
Most of the forested areas of Saskatchewan are home to a wide variety of bats. In the early sixties biologists spent the summer collecting them at Moose Mountain Provincial Park down in Saskatchewan's South East and discovered that more then five species were in the woods and there were a number of others in smaller numbers.

The blur in the pictures clearly shows the speed of this tiny mammal's wing movements as the digital camera was no match for his capable movement around this room. It was around 10:30 when this fellow entered the computer room through the opened door as he was scouting about for a lunch of mosquitoes. Bryan Young, John William Head Memorial Education Centre, Vice Principal said that they had all kinds of them in the building as a result of the construction project and when I came to summon him he was able to reach out for his long handled bat catcher they he kept close by him just in case a bat drifted by. He came back to the computer lab with me to give the guy a hand.

This blurred picture is most interesting because it was a flash image so the movement of the wing is captured on the frame as a solid object but is actually the rapid movement of the bat's wings. When you consider the length of time during the flash interval this wing speed pushes the envelop.

This brown bat cruised around the room with precision, not like a bird hopelessly looking for a way out. He seemed to have things under control and exhibited outstanding control. With me waving my camera and flashing away the bat showed much more self control then the photographer who was seeing in bright light the aviation capabilities of a mammal for the first time. I had seen them whiz over camp fires but that was always just like these pictures, a blur in the night. But in this brightly lit room I was able to see the furry flier do quick loops, aileron rolls and inverted flight.

The move to latch on to the ceiling was the best one in this mini-airshow. I was able to walk right up to him for this picture as he clung to the ceiling tile. My camera was not designed for nature photography so not only can I not capture high speed motion but close-ups are not an option.

I left him in this position to go for help and when we returned he was no where in sight. We thought he had found his way into the space above the ceiling until Bryan found him resting quietly on the floor. Bryan nabbed him with his long handled bat catcher and the bat was then taken outside to feast on the mosquitoes to his heart's content.

This is not a really small animal but the brown bat in these pictures has a body the size of a small mouse only his front legs and fingers stretch out to the width of a dinner plate.

In this image he is on the bullitin board and I nailed him with the flash. As I came close to get the shot below he put his head behind the board in an obvious ploy to hide.

It is easy to see why folk lore and fiction writers have made use of the Bat for creating monsters because this creature with his big ear's beady eyes and turned up little nose has a very special look to him that does seem

especially attractive to this human but then maybe I have seen to many movies.

I saved this portrait of this self propelled bug eater for the last because it was taken about two feet from his nose which is the limit of the little camera's lens and though I wish it were better it is as good as I could get for you.

The cool thing about this animal is it works steadily to reduce the bug population and judging from his flight speed it is surprising there are so many bugs.