Bat Project Gets Underway


Just after sunset on July 1, HMNs Peggy Plass and Emily Fugate met at Lake Shenandoah to kick off our latest project—Acoustic Bat Monitoring! Our chapter purchased a handheld bat monitor earlier this summer, and Sunday night marked the first time that it was used to collect data in the field. This spring, the state office of Virginia Master Naturalist hosted a webinar with information about bat monitoring projects being done in two other chapters around the state. Headwaters will now be participating in one of these, filing data from weekly monitoring trips with BatAMP (the Bat Acoustic Monitoring Portal). In Sunday’s outing at Lake Shenandoah, Peggy and Emily recorded more than 100 bat calls from 3 different species—lasiurus cinereus (Hoary bats), lasiurus borealis (Eastern Red bats), and lasionycteris noctivagans (Silver-haired bats). They also got quite a lot of mosquito bites.

The project is just getting started, and we’re definitely still working out the kinks. If you’re interested in being part of this, here’s some basic information to help you decide.  The protocol involves monitoring at a site at least once every two weeks (we’re hoping for weekly visits) for about an hour. Monitoring has to start no earlier than 15 minutes after sunset. Those who are considering the project should definitely watch the webinar from the Virginia Master Naturalist state office from this spring—it can be found here. You might also want to check out BatAMP for more information on how the data will be used. You can find that here.

RedBat.Screenshot_20180702-163722_Echo MeterThe bat monitor itself is pretty easy to use, but requires a little bit of training, which we’ll of course provide. Right now, we only own one monitor, and it requires an Android device to be usable in the field. Only one person in a pair (or group) needs to have a compatible device, though. We’re feeling pretty committed to continuing to monitor at Lake Shenandoah, but are also very open to considering other sites, should there be other HMNs who want to work on this at other places. Spots on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail loops that are in our area might be good choices.

If you’re interested in getting involved in this project, or just learning more about it, feel free to contact the project coordinator, Peggy Plass. You can reach her at plassms [at]

– Peggy Plass, Cohort IV, Projects Committee Chair, July 2018

Photo at right is a screenshot of the monitor display from Peggy and Emily’s July 1st Lake Shenandoah monitoring indicating the call of an Eastern Red Bat.