La Contessa, Pallid Bat of the Baja

April 20th, 2013
by Paula

Abandoned building we netted for pallid bats

We spent the afternoon looking for night roosts, because the cold front and high winds would minimize bat activity.  We drove for miles, looking under bridges with no luck. Then we spotted an abandoned cinder-block building. On the floor inside we found lots of droppings and abundant wings of large insects, indicative of night roosting pallid bats. With this evidence in hand, we returned at sundown armed with several mist nets. It was so cold that only a few bats arrived, but we caught three pallid bats.

We took these back to the studio where Merlin tested them for likelihood of cooperation by hand-feeding them mealworms.  And although under such circumstances each bat was precious, he released one immediately because it refused to eat from his hand. There was nothing to do but wait and see if at least one of our remaining bats would go to our cardon flowers.

After about 30 minutes of watching our bats with great anticipation, as they circled our flowers, the one we had already worked with for a night suddenly decided to go to a flower, and we got outstanding pictures with its head thoroughly covered in pollen.  This bat couldn’t have performed any better, and we got incredible shots, despite our early challenges. We named her La Contessa, after the original proprietress of the villa of San Basilio where we had captured her.

We were delighted with the great results, but our one bat quickly became engorged with nectar and didn’t want to come back, so we made sure the bats were well fed, and went to bed at 3 a.m.

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