Success in Panama!

During both weeks of our workshops, we encountered periodic rain showers, keeping the normally hot, dry-season temperatures far more comfortable than anticipated. The downside was that we had poor netting results on three nights during the second week. We shared the forest with some interesting characters, such as a black jaguar, which fortunately left us alone, though it likely observed our activities. This one was photographed on a trail camera near one of our netting sites.

 

We set up a triple-high mist net almost every night, both weeks.

Departing to net bats over the nearby river. Daniel Hargreaves is carrying the triple-high net rig in the red bag. His team of skilled instructors from the U.K., Steve and Fiona Parker and Daniel Whitby, were superb.

Daniel Hargreaves carrying the triple-high net rig. It was set over the river to catch free-tailed bats. Daniel’s enthusiasm and endless endurance played a key role in our incredible success.
Preparing a “triple-high” net pole for a night of bat netting over the river. Melissa Donnelly, Alexis Valentine, Amy Ejma, Rachel Page and Daniel Hargreaves (left to right).
Setting first of two poles used to stretch three nets over the river. Melissa Donnelly, Rachel Page, Amy Ejma, Alexis Valentine and Daniel Hargreaves (left to right) about to raise first net pole.
Opening first net between triple-high poles.
Melissa Donnelly holding second pole till guy lines can be attached. Melissa contributed her much appreciated expertise both weeks.
Steve Parker removing a silky short-tailed bat (Carollia brevicauda) from a monofilament mist net.
Steve Parker measures a bat’s forearm as Daniel Hargreaves and Daniel Whitby watch. Merlin’s photo studio is in the background.
A Salvin’s big-eyed bat (Chiroderma salvini) calmly awaits release.
Comparing the similar Macconnell’s (Mesophyla macconnelli) and northern little yellow-eared (Vampyressa thyone) bats. Note the more distinct facial strips on the latter.

We caught vampires nearly every night at Cocobolo Nature Reserve because it’s adjacent to a cattle ranch. Vampire bats are able to run and jump from the ground. They have heat sensors in their nose, that help them locate capillary-rich locations to make painless feeding incisions, and they have efficient kidneys that allow them to pass the water from blood as fast as they drink. This enables them to go home with a full protein meal. They are also socially sophisticated, forming long-term “friendships,” sharing meals with others in need, and adopting orphans.  Unfortunately, due to large-scale introduction of domestic animals, such as cattle, their numbers have greatly increased, enabling them to become pests. Consequently, literally millions of beneficial bats in Latin America have been killed simply because they were mistaken for vampires.

 

Sharon Martinson (visiting katydid researcher) organizing katydids for Merlin’s photos.
Janell Cannon, famous author of the children’s book, Stellaluna, drawing the white-throated round-eared bat she trained.

 

Thanks to our intrepid workshop participants, we have greatly advanced knowledge of bats in the Cocobolo Nature Reserve, more than doubling the number of bat species known to be present. We’ve also added substantially to MTBC’s bat photo library. We especially thank Michael Roy, founder of CREA: Conservation through Research, Education and Action, and owner of Cocobolo Nature Reserve for hosting us. And to the resident scientists, interns and volunteers, Genny, Matt, Zack, Alex, Francisco, Joel and Abel, who took such good care of us and introduced us to a variety of non-bat wildlife on the reserve.

 

MTBC’s Panama Bat Workshop Week 2 (right to left, front row first) Teresa Nichta, Merlin Tuttle, Daniel Hargreaves, Janell Cannon, Alexis Valentine, Jen Shallman, Fiona Parker, Steve Parker, (second row, right to left) Amy Ejma,Melissa Donnelly, Daniel Whitby, Sharon Mammoser Goldston, Joe Goldston and Derek Conrad.