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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Great Bat Conservation Site! - Bats Of Salamanca

Wanted to share this great bat site:

Bats Of Salamanca

Another "sub-link", from the site above; that features lots of goodies & info to download!

Bats Of Spain & Portugal - Translated Into English

Great info & pictures!

Happy bat detecting!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: The SSF BAT2 Part 1 Of 2

The SSF BAT2, is manufactured by Microelectronic Volkman, and distributed by All About Bats  This bat detector has lots of awesome (and very useful) features!
I'll start at the beginning...
The review sample of the new SSF BAT2 detector arrived very well packaged; safe and sound to me here in the U.S. from Germany.extremely well-packaged. 
The detector was very well protected. Multi-boxed, including a foam-lined inner section.  -See below:


The next item to catch my eye, was the beautiful carry case it comes with! Wow! Really nice, there is even a compartment in the front, that can hold an extra set of (4) AA-size batteries. It features a belt loop, and very secure Velcro flap. I like the case a lot!
For a while, All-About-Bats.net was offering the case free; with the purchase of an SSF BAT2 - So, hopefully some of you were lucky enough to order one while the special offer was in effect.
The unit is provided with: The attached, adjustable wrist strap; a full printed manual in German. I had printed out the English version of it (even before it arrived!)

Here are some Links, to get you started:

MEKV - In German

Links to the User Guide PDF, in both (Orig.) German; and English:

The SSF BAT2 - All About Bats (Original German)

The SSF BAT2 - All About Bats (English)

From the beginning, it's hard not to like this detector! Upon powering up and checking/testing this instrument: You will notice the incredible sensitivity and range; as well as the precision of it's Volume control. These are simply the two main features that I noticed first.

This bat detector has quite a bit of "Wow factor" - Which is nice, at this price point. I really like it's features! This bat detector is very easy and fun to use!
I believe that a major reason for this, is that this unit is really two bat detectors-in-one. When switched on: The frequency division portion of the unit is always on, and "scanning" the air space in front of it -Constantly displaying the detected frequency. At any time, the heterodyne portion of the detector can be instantly tuned, to the frequency being displayed - Simply by pressing one button. Very cool!
Of course, you have full control of the heterodyne portion of the unit, at the same time. Most would say, the main category into which this detector fits, would be heterodyne. That is it's main mode of operation.
First impressions were great! The frequency range of this unit, is 15 to 130kHz. I really liked the sensitivity of the unit, and the audio output of the speaker is very good.
In Part 2 of this review: There will be more photos, and I'll cover more features and performance of this detector ...

Where to buy:

All About Bats

NHBS

This Link (translated to English, by BabelFish) has enough free download-able goodies to keep you busy for a while! I like it!

SSF BAT2 Review Part 2 Of 2

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weather Conditions Conducive To Bat Detecting

It has been written in several books (and various other texts/scientific papers), that bats will not (or are very unlikely) to be detected if certain weather conditions exist. This seems to be especially likely, if the guide you are reading, is a bit outdated.

The typical generalizations (or guidelines) have stated, for instance: That bats will not take flight, or leave their temporary (or permanent) roosts, unless the outdoor temperature is at least 50 Deg. F. Those of you who (like me) read all the bat books, texts, and scientific papers that you can get your hands on; will have also read: That bats will not fly if it is too windy, or raining.
To put it nicely: Many of us have already discovered that these guidelines (or "Rules") are incorrect. The interesting thing, is that many modern documents also echo these guidelines.

I've found that a fascinating (and fun) activity, is to actually set-out to prove that these recommendations are incorrect. So, if possible - Place one of your detectors out if:
 Temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit
 It's raining lightly - And you're able to do so without getting the unit wet - Please make sure that your detector's microphone element doesn't get wet!
 It's windy...Not too windy, mind you! Bats certainly will not fly if winds are over 15mph.
Remember to take notes! - Especially if you get any recordings of bats.

Together, we hobbyists will be able to prove a lot of those old texts wrong. And, be able to share new (and interesting) findings/updates. I keep a separate journal (notebook) especially for this purpose. I have already proven that the 50 Deg. F "rule" is not accurate : )

For intermediate or advanced hobbyists:
There is something else. Especially during this Winter - If you capture bat recordings at night, or at dusk/dawn; and it happens to be the "dead of Winter" - It would be good, to try to positively verify the species. This may be done, using the usual/conventional means: Studying various facets of the recordings, studying/comparing the resulting sonograms, etc.

If for instance, you determine that the species recorded; are of a type that should positively be hibernating at that date/time. There is a possibility, that you have picked up bats that are suffering from WNS. Of course, this is a very sad topic for most of us. Depending on your situation, location, (and perhaps other variables) you may be able to share your findings with your local Wildlife Authorities. You may even be instrumental in saving the lives of some bats.
Just keep in mind, that there are some bat species, which are known to be active (even in December) and it is not abnormal. You'll have to use your discretion.

Happy bat detecting!

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Look: The Amazing NEW EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics, Inc.

Just about 2 more months, until the release of the remarkable new EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics, Inc.
In the meantime, you can see a short "teaser" video of it in action on this Link

Remember to keep your bat detectors going - (and, your eyes open) for any Red Bats during these Winter months...Or any other species of bats that are routinely spotted during the Winter in your area.
Here in the NYC area, for example: Red Bats have been seen flying, during the day in Central Park in December!
I've been lucky enough to photograph them, resting on the Red Cedar trees in my neighbor's backyard (during the day). This year, I will double my efforts in getting good photos of them.

Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some Opinions & Info Recently Shared With Some Readers (Via e-mail)

I received a few questions recently, from some beginning Hobbyists; and others who are new to bat detecting equipment. So, I'm passing along some of the information I shared, and the suggestions I offered.

Detector Recommendations, Responses To E-Mails , And Other Tips:

The new SSF BAT2, is a fantastic detector, that has excellent sensitivity and range It's reasonably priced - And is a lot of fun to use! The review of this one, is still "in the works"...But will be posted up here soon. Have a look at this great unit (I love the display):


In regards to Dodotronic's Ultramics:

I believe that the Ultramic may be useful, for your application - For more info, in regards to the Ultramic, from Dodotronic:
You may also want to have a look at the Forum discussion that took place here: http://www.forumbretagne-vivante.org/t2751-micro-ultrasons-usb
A lot of the posts are in French - Just scroll down, until you see the post in English, written by Ivano of Dodotronic.
You'll have to disregard the mention of it's ability to do unattended recording - As this feature has not been implemented into the SeaWave software yet. In fact, that functionality may be added to the SeaPro software.
The Ultramics do need to be connected to a computing device of some sort. When hooked up to a laptop, netbook, or Tablet PC, the Ultramic works very well.
The way I see it, when it comes to the Ultramic - Is this: If you will be recording in a place where substantial numbers of bats are pretty much "guaranteed" (Pond, Lake or Stream/River) then; the Ultramic would be good. - But, it does pick up and record other ultrasounds as well. Any sound (or noise) that resonates in (or close to) the ultrasonic spectrum will be picked up.
It would not be my first choice for un-attended recording.

If your budget allows, I would recommend the D240X. As it allows you to listen to the both the Heterodyne, and the TE activity that is going on at the same time (using any stereo earphones). You can hear the Heterodyne sounds in one ear and the TE activity in the other, simultaneously. With a digital stereo recorder, you'd be all set.
I was very fond of that unit during my testing and review period. One of the things that I noticed, was the noise-free recordings I got (using the D240X & a Zoom H1 Stereo recorder). The TE recordings were very clean (no background noise). Even the heterodyne recordings were clean.

The D240X on bat walks - The neat thing is, you can plug the recorder into the Tape jack, to capture (record) any triggered events; -and- listen to the heterodyne portion over the speaker at the same time.
Folks in attendance, will be able to hear the live bat activity (while you are recording it). The speaker Volume setting has no effect on the recordings. Excellent.
The only issue here, would be the higher cost...
As I mentioned on a previous post: The very lowest cost I've seen them for, (New) was $1499 US.

The Ciel CDB 305 Dual Bat Detector looks OK - It's not a terrible choice. However, relying on the printed knob tuning won't be extremely accurate.

Something with a digital readout would be ideal (and accurate).
A unit like the BatBox Duet would be excellent, but it is not cheap -http://batbox.com/duet.asp

Having said that; if cost is a major consideration - I would recommend the following unit:
The BatBox Baton (an outstanding performer - and cheap!).
In any case, with a simple digital recorder - It's very portable. Try to get the shortest stereo cable you can find (with 3.5mm plugs on each end). You'll be able to travel all over (and all night) making FD recordings.
A blog post, regarding cables and other small accessories will be coming up in the not-too-distant future.
The resulting frequency division recordings produced, will be a good starting point - In regards to analyzing the calls and creating sonograms. And, let's keep in mind that the Baton comes with a CD containing the Batscan software! Which I like very much, for creating sonograms, etc. As a side note: BatBox Ltd.'s Batscan software is very similar to the (no-longer-available) Spectrogram 16 software.

The resulting FD recordings will be useful. And you'll be able to analyze them, etc.

Well, I hope that helps. I'm probably forgetting something!
Happy bat detecting!
-Al