I saw a Silver-haired Bat (and recorded its echo location) flying around the southern end of Turtle Pond. On days early or late in the season it is not uncommon to see a bat in the late afternoon. Nice to see my third bat in a week.
One of the joys of birding in Central Park is that will all of the great birds, come great bird watchers who find rare things. Today's great find was a Silver-haired Bat that must have been disturbed during the day and ended up sitting on a sawdust covered log in the Tupelo Meadow.
At first the bat looked like it might have died, with no sign of life. But as it got darker, the bat became more and more active, until it flew off into the dim light of dusk.
I stopped by Central Park's Pond on my way home. The Pond is located just north of the Plaza Hotel at the south east end of the park. The usual suspects were there, including a Wood Duck, a Black-crowned Night Heron, Mallards and Canada Geese, plus the hundreds of Common Grackles coming home to roost in the trees surrounding the Pulitzer Fountain of Grand Army Plaza.
What I didn't expect to find were two Eastern-Red Bats feeding at around 6 p.m. Usually, I need to rely on my Echo Meter Touch to identify my bats, but these were clearly Eastern-Red Bats just by watching them. I did my best to get some pictures without flash in the low light.
After sunset, a Red-tailed Hawk flew around the Pond and the buildings on Central Park South. I suspect one of the adults we saw bringing nesting materials to Crown Building earlier this year. These hawks continue to be a mystery, but it was good to see they're still around.
Yesterday, I spent an hour listening for bat echolocations, as well as watching them around the Conservatory Water, aka the Model Boat Pond. Bats are migrating through the city, and with it getting dark earlier, I don't have to stay out too late! So the next few weeks are perfect to go bat watching.
Using the Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro Bat Detector and iOS software, I was able to capture a large number of echolocations. The software does its best to identify which species of bat it hears, sort of like a Shazam for bats. The software can make mistakes, so my results could have errors. While I recorded a great number of bat passes, a single bat could have created many of them.
Click on either chart to enlarge it.
Now that we're in late September that number of bats seems to be declining at the Model Boat Pond. Tonight I got 8 recordings of Big Brown Bats, 29 recordings of Eastern Red Bats and 29 recordings of Silver-haired Bats. Of course a single bat will have multiple recordings. These number are a lot fewer than a few weeks ago, although the Silver-haired Bat number are the highest I've seen for this species.
Tonight, the ratio of Eastern Red Bats to Big Brown Bats recordings was 129 to 38, where last week it was an even split. But I don't know if it was a change in the number of bats or if the Eastern Reds just hung out longer. Last week, the Eastern Red Bats came out early, followed by the Big Brown Bats. Tonight, the Eastern Red Bats stayed until it was very dark.
I have no idea if the number of bats has changed or if the food sources changed. Unlike Bird Watching, which has a long history of citizen science and great databases (eBirds, Christmas Bird Counts, etc.), there are almost no resources for bats. There are no hot spot maps for bats for example! Or online records of when to expect different bat species to be present in Central Park. This is going to take time to figure out!
Tonight there continued to be a large number of bats at dusk flying around the Model Boat Pond.
(Pale Male roosted on a building a block south of his nest. He's done this two other nights this week.)
My study of the bats at the Model Boat Pond in Central Park continues. I used a flash to photograph the bats tonight. I was able to get a few good shots of the bats. I think it's going to take me weeks to learn how to shoot these bats!
There were one or two Silver-haired Bats in with the mix of Eastern Red Bats and Big Brown Bats.
I've somehow become addicted to watching the bats at dusk in Central Park at the model boat pond. I even invested in a Echo Meter Touch bat detector so I can see spectrograms of the bat's echolocation sounds. The detector is identifying (with 80% certainty) an almost even mix of Eastern Red Bats and Big Brown Bats. The Eastern Red Bats appear earlier in the evening followed by the Big Brown Bats.
Walking around the lake and out the west side of the park, I was able to detect two more Eastern Red Bats and two more Big Brown Bats tonight.
Another day trying to capture photos of bats at the Model Boat Pond in Central Park. They're a lot harder to photograph than Red-tailed Hawks!
This time of year, if you sit near the hawk bench at the Model Boat Pond at dusk, you'll see lots of Chimney Swifts feeding. But as it gets darker, almost like magic, there are fewer and fewer swifts and in their place you'll see bats.
Using a "bat detector" to monitor the pitch of the echolocation sound, I discovered the bats are primarily two species, Eastern Red Bat and Big Brown Bat.
For 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday, the Central Park Conservancy and the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY hosted a BioBlitz studying the flora and fauna of Central Park.
On Monday night I had the privilege of taking a small group of CUNY students around the North Woods looking for nocturnal birds. Our targets were Black Skimmer, any owl, Nighthawks, Nightjars, and Night-Herons.
August is a tough time to see owls in the park, especially since the Eastern Screech-Owls reintroduced in 1999 and 2002 are no longer in the park. The other birds are tough to find at night on a good day, especially up north. So, we only ended up seeing sleeping waterfowl -- Mallards, a few domestic ducks and a Canada Goose. Outside of birds, we also saw a few Eastern Racoons, some Norway Rats and heard a Bull Frog.
After our survey work was done we joined up with the bat team. Both Eastern Red Bats and Silver-haired Bats had been captured in mist nests, so the students got a chance to see the bats up close. While I always see lots of bats hunting at dusk during the summer in Central Park, this was my first opportunity to see them up close.
Kudos to both the Central Park Conservancy and the Macaulay Honors College who did a fantastic job organizing a great learning event for hundreds of NYC college students.