Little Fruit Bats, The hollowed out log (Videography!)

4th December 2017

Blog Written By Jaime Thomas & Chris Ketola

11/11/17:

Once again we went back to the “Bat Tree” as we have now dubbed it. The goal today was to capture video of the bats moving inside of the tree. I crawled in first with my camera, laying it on a pillow. My headlamp was attached to a long stick, and I also used Mark’s headlamp to see where I was going. There were several bats not far from the entrance but it was difficult to focus after I propped up the camera on the pillow. I had to lie flat on the bottom of the tree, cockroaches scattering here and there, and try to aim the lens upwards while using the headlamp on the stick to illuminate the bats. That did not work out so well, the bats started flying around and moved further back into the tree. I moved forward to follow them and was at least halfway through and still had trouble getting enough light on them. After about 30 minutes I emerged from the log with a disappointing lack of footage. Mark tried next and ended up with some decent video but with the headlamps were acting as a strobe light and we kept seeing lines running through the video. We tried once more, both of us entering the log, with Mark attempting to record and me assisting with both of our lights. We still had no luck so we called it a day and headed back. We discussed the strobe effect issue and Mark decided to try his more powerful headlamp. By the time we got back to camp it was dark so we shone that light at a tree and recorded video – he found that by adjusting the aperture and brightness of the light the lines seem to disappear. So now we’re going to try again using the stronger light…..

 

11/12/17:

We spent a good part of the afternoon inside that tree today. After we got there Mark crawled inside with his camera on a pillow, in order to be able to hold it more steady while staying crouched low inside the log. He also used the red light on his other headlamp to see as he was making his way through the log and found that the bats apparently don’t detect the red, therefore were not disturbed by it and didn’t fly away from it. My lamp has the same feature so from now on we’ll use the red light for ourselves and save the extra bright light only for when we are actually filming. So after Mark entered the log, I followed with my camera and 70-300mm lens on a tripod. The camera was upside down positioned perpendicular to the tripod legs in order to fit inside of the log. While Mark focused on close up shots of the bats, I focused on getting a wider view of the interior of the log with the bats hanging from the top and flying back and forth. Keeping everything in focus was a challenge but I aimed for the bats that Mark had the light focused on in order to get the best views. That worked rather well and I was able to get a lot of footage of bats moving around, sleeping and flying to and from their perches. Several times one flew past me and also several times one flew toward us and perched right above Mark’s head! We got some cool photos and video of bats stretching their wings out, yawning wide and exposing their sharp teeth. Some even performed short walks across the top of the log from their perches, which was rather comical looking! After about 2 hours of being crammed inside that dark, stuffy, cave-like hole, we emerged into the waning late afternoon light of the forest interior. Time to head back to camp…..

Story written by Mark Fernley