Photographing Bats at World’s Largest Cactus Species

Last night in the Mexican desert Merlin was perched on the roof of Fred and Paul’s suburban alongside a giant cardon cactus. He mounted his camera on a tripod with a flash nearby. While we raised a second flash on a tripod duct-taped to three 10-foot poles to create a super tripod. And that was it–simple, huh? No way!

Bats often passed within 2-3 feet of a flower more than a dozen times before deciding to pause for a drink, and we could barely see them coming in the dim light. Catching the split-second action was a real challenge. It took two hours to get even half a dozen useful shots.

Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) visiting cardon cactus

Pallid bats arrived first, as the flowers were barely opening. But once the Long-nosed bats showed up, we didn’t see even one more Pallid bat. Apparently Long-nosed bats still rule the cardon.

Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae) pollinating cardon cactus

 

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