Friday, August 6, 2010

How Bats got me to look at the Moon, and a Bird Song Puzzle

Bats have suffered a devastating decline in the Northeast in recent years due to White Nose Syndrome, and  so the sight of two little brown bats that appear at dusk every night makes me happy, particularly since they are doing a great job of keeping the mosquitoes down.  - Bats, I read, can eat about half of their body weight in insects every night.

For evenings on end standing on our deck I tried to get a photo of a bat flying over our house, impossible to do with my camera set-up I found out; I could not set the large aperture required for the low light condition and obtain a  fast enough shutter speed to stop bat motion in mid flight. This motion blurred image was all I could come up with:

Little Brown Bat in motion

I finally gave up and since it was such beautiful clear evening I pointed my camera at the waxing gibbous moon hanging in the sky.

Waxing Moon

Have you ever looked at the moon with binoculars? All those dark splotches you see with the naked eye show their true topography as flat planes and  maria (seas) ..... and then there are the mountain ranges, and the many craters - it's quite amazing how much you can see! Here are my photos taken over a series of nights to record three lunar phases.

Waning Moon
Waxing Moon

The topography of the full moon is less revealing, lacking the highlights and shadows that bring out the topography in relief.

Here is a map of the lunar landmarks
Moon Map
The moon is a piece of our earth, not many mysteries there, and after the Apollo 17  mission in Dec '72 the  the moon program was stopped as interest in further explorations had faded.

Back when I was young I and my friends,  like all young adults I suppose, talked a lot about what life may have in store for us, trying to decipher the meaning of life, and speculating about the universe in which we were living, trying to grasp Earth's  infinitely small peripheral spot on the Orion Arm in our Milky Way Galaxy

Image from Wikipedia. The Orion Arm is labeled Local Spur and the yellow dot denotes the position of the Earth
I remember a walk on a first date years ago with somebody I had just met at a school dance. It was a clear moonless summer night. Looking at the starry sky I said something about the zillions of frozen worlds in the universe, imagining what it would be like to visit there. My date stopped in his tracks, saying quietly, mournfully, "Is that what you are seeing?" and I found out that he wanted us to see the stars as so many candles on the night sky. Suddenly a yawning gap, a total disconnect between our views, ever curious me and him with romance on his mind. The End.  We obviously functioned on different planes.  I continue to be fascinated by reading about the universe, engrossed by such books as Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos... or Lisa Randall's Warped Passages....

Anyhow, getting back to birds, here are a couple of recent photos:

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

And lastly a songbird puzzle for which I don't have an answer. The bird was vocalizing in a stand of trees near a river. Please leave a comment if you can name the bird.

Thanks for stopping by and please leave a comment if you like.

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  1. I know that Willows' FC have some alternate songs, the only one I found on xeno canto was somehow similar, but not quite the same.

    I still would say an atypical willows, but I am by no mean an expect on the topic.


  2. Thanks, Laurent. I had hoped that you would post a comment. I too thought it reminded me of a Willow FC. I had posted it on the ID Forum of in July, but got only one response, stating that he did not believe it was a Willow FC, but did not know what it was. So, I'll go with atypical Willow's.

  3. I've never tried to photograph bats, I think it would present a difficult problem.

    There was a guy in Britain decades ago who had an elaborate setup of high speed flashes triggered by the subject. His images of bats and other flying creatures were breathtaking

  4. Thanks, Harold. Last year I photographed a bat during daylight as it was cruising back and forth over pond gobbling up insects. It was early spring and probably was very hungry.


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