by: Danielle O’Dell, Ecologist/Field Supervisor

Northern long-eared Bat Myotis septentrionalis on Nantucket

The Science and Stewardship staff have continued to delve deeper and deeper in to the Northern long-eared Bat world! This season, we added a new member to our bat crew! Neil Foley, our long-time Coatue Ranger and Shorebird Monitor, got his rabies vaccination, and with all of his experience removing birds from mist-nets, easily transitioned into removing our small, winged nocturnal mammal friends from nets!

Neil Foley with a Northern long-eared Bat

This spring and summer, we captured over 60 adult and juvenile bats on Nantucket. The wing and muzzle of each captured bat was swabbed lightly with a q-tip. Those samples were sent to a lab in Northern Arizona to test for the fungus that causes to White-nose Syndrome, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, was present on Nantucket bats. Thankfully, all our samples returned negative and our bats appeared to come out of hibernation healthy!

Swabbing the muzzle of a Northern long-eared bat to test for the presence of the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome

A perk of membership at the Nantucket Conservation Foundation is the chance to come along and learn about the research that the Science and Stewardship Department conducts. This year, our members were treated to our biggest bat night ever, with 19 bats captured in less than 2.5 hours of mist-netting. If you’re interested in joining in on another opportunity like this, our next “Bat Night” will be held on Saturday, September 21st, in collaboration with the Maria Mitchell Association. You can sign up here: All About Bats Program. Mark your calendars as we will also be giving a presentation at the Nantucket Atheneum on Wednesday evening, October 9th, with a more complete update on all the bat related research occurring on Nantucket.

Bat encounters with the Science and Stewardship Bat Crew – August 2019

We continued our acoustic surveys for bats across the island, focusing this year in some more remote sections of the island including Coskata-Coatue and the old Sconset Dump. We also put detectors in places where we’ve never collected bat data from – right in town at the Top of Main Street and we were somewhat surprised to find high levels of activity from both Northern long-eared and red bats. Our most exciting find on the acoustic detectors came from Tuckernuck in July where we documented calls of Northern long-eared bats for the first time! We spent one night on Tuckernuck in an attempt to capture and band bats there along with the – unfortunately, the bats evaded our nets but now that we have more definitive evidence that Northerns are present on Tuckernuck, we’re looking forward to trying again next year.

On Nantucket, far and away the most common bat that we capture in our mist-nets is the Northern long-eared bat. This year, we were thrilled to also capture two red bats. Red bats are by no means uncommon – we frequently pick up their calls across Nantucket on our detectors – but we rarely catch them.

Libby Buck examines the wings of a red bat

All the late night bat work keeps us on our toes in the spring and summer but our most intense work begins in late October as the temps drop and bats begin entering hibernation. We will again be mist-netting to capture bats and attach radio transmitters to them in order to track them to their hibernacula. We believe that Nantucket bats hibernate in crawl spaces and basements with cinder block foundations. No space is too spider-y for us so if you think you have a crawl space that might be occupied by bats, we’d love to come have a look in the early part of winter.

The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is a private, non-profit land trust that depends on contributions from our members to support our science projects, conservation property acquisitions and land management efforts. If you are not already a member, please join us now!