Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nightjars and bats during eclipse

Last night I went down to Neot Hakikar - it was a full moon and I was hoping to have good nightjar activity. I'd organized a good team (Ron, Re'a, Eli and Shachar) - I wanted to ring some nightjars as part of my monitoring project there. We arrived early enough to experience the beautiful weather, and the nets were up in time before dark. There were lots of Namaqua Doves in the area but none got caught.

Namaqua Dove - male
When I planned this excursion a few weeks ago I didn't know about the lunar eclipse that happened last night. When I learned about this, I got very excited - it was really interesting for me to see the response of my nightjars to the eclipse, as their ecology is so strongly connected to moon cycles.
During the first part of the evening, when the moon was up and the eclipse hadn't started yet, nightjar activity was very good indeed, with lots of birds foraging and calling, including a good numbers of juveniles as far as I could tell. During the evening we managed to ring two birds - a juvenile and an adult (male I suppose - look at these huge wing patches and tail corners). Later on as the eclipse commenced, nightjar activity dropped seriously, and resumed only after the eclipse faded and moonlight was strong again. I wish I had a bat detector with me - they must have had an interesting response too.

Nubian Nightjar

However during the night we caught three bats of three species. First was this Trident Leaf-nosed Bat. This son of a bitch bit me while I was changing my camera settings, and sent me to get rabies shots today...

Trident Leaf-nosed Bat (Asellia trident)
Then came a Desert Long-eared Bat - much larger but much calmer:

Desert Long-eared Bat (Otonycteris hemprichii)
Last was this tiny Bodenheimer's Pipistrelle - Israel smallest bat. This one was 3.5 gr only!

Bodenheimer's Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus Bodenheimeri)
And about the eclipse, it was bizarre and beautiful and special. First the moon rose over the Edom mountains of Jordan:

At first it was shining through a layer of dust giving it a yellow hue:

Here the eclipse is growing:

This is the full eclipse:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting observations, Yoav. I have never considered it, but of course nocturnal animals, of all kinds, would react to an eclipse.

    Great shots of the eclipse's progress.