NHBS Guide to Bat Survey Equipment

Common Pipistrelle by Meneer Zjeroen on Flickr

With Spring around the corner and the bat survey season fast approaching, it is a great time to make sure you have everything ready for the busy months ahead. Over the winter we have been busy reviewing our current products, cataloging new products and even designing our own products. Here, we have picked out some exciting new products as well as some old favourites to take a look at.

The NHBS Harp Trap – Coming Soon!

Over the last few months, the NHBS manufacturing team have been working hard on developing the NHBS Harp Trap. We are currently in the process of testing and trialing our harp trap ready for its release in the coming months. Designed and built on-site at our workshop in Totnes, our three-bank harp trap will feature some innovative designs such as a winding line carrier and anti-tangling system that makes assembly and disassembly, easy and efficient. Made mostly from aluminium, the trap is surprisingly lightweight at just 15kg, whilst remaining sturdy and durable during use. The harp trap is 190cm long and has a catch area of about 4m². The catch bag is approximately 60cm deep and its entrance is about 39cm wide. When collapsed, the catch bag wraps around the disassembled frame and is held tightly with Velcro straps so that it can be neatly stored and carried in its bag. Initial feedback on its design and function has been very positive and we are excited to develop our design based upon suggestions from professional bat workers. Our standard trap will be a three bank, but if you would like a bespoke two or four bank trap, please contact us so that we can discuss your requirements.

BTHK Tree-Roost Net

Based on the design by Henry Andrews from the Bat Tree Habitat Key (BTHK) project, the BTHK Tree-Roost net is uniquely designed for trapping bats as they emerge from tree roost sites. The net is set up against a roost site prior to dusk so that it will catch any bats that emerge, keeping them safely in the bag ready for identification, measuring and ringing. The diamond shape of the net head can pivot and collapse inwards to ensure that the net fits flush against any tree, making it safer for bats and easier for surveyors. The net bag is made from fine woven nylon mesh that is soft and will not damage the delicate wings or feet of bats. The net bag can be easily removed for cleaning and features a clear plastic rim that fits around the collar and prevents bats from climbing up and out of the net when it is in place. The length of the handle is 4 meters (breaks down into 3 sections for ease of transport) and the depth of the bag is 1 metre. You may also be interested in the book Bat Roosts in Trees which is a guide to finding tree roosts.

Anabat Scout – Coming Soon!

The Anabat Scout is the latest bat detector by Titley Scientific. Due for release this March, the Scout is designed with UK and European bat biologists in mind and is tailored for active bat surveying. It can record both full spectrum and zero crossing files and stores them on a SD card with every file geo-tagged. The Scout has heterodyne, auto-heterodyne and frequency division audio that can be played through earphones or its own built-in speaker. The in/out bat counter is ideal for emergence surveys and will automatically timestamp and geo-tag every count. The small OLED screen displays crucial information without being too bright or distracting and the Anabat Scout will be compatible with Anabat’s free Anabat Insight software for viewing and analysing your data. Easy to use and versatile, this new detector is set to become popular with bat ecologists who are looking for an active survey detector.

Elekon Batlogger M

The Elekon Batlogger M is great for active surveying and full spectrum recording. The weatherproof FG Knowles microphone has a range of 10–150kHz and can record in 16-bit full spectrum. The Batlogger M also logs the GPS coordinates (via an integrated GPS receiver), and environmental temperature at the time of recording. Different recording settings (scheduled, permanent, or triggered), and different trigger thresholds (for call identification) can be set up and the device comes with its own powerful but user-friendly call analysis software package

Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro

The Echo Meter Touch 2 lets you record, listen to, and identify bat calls in real-time on your iOS or Android device. All you need is your Android or Apple device (see the nhbs.com website for compatible models), your Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro, and the Echo Meter Touch App which is a free download from the iTunes Store or Google Play Store. When plugged in, the Echo Meter Touch 2 enables you to listen to bats in real time, view live sonograms in full colour, record onto your device and identify calls to species level in seconds. If your device has GPS functionality, the Echo Meter Touch will also log the recording location and path of the recording session. There are two versions available in both an iOS version and Android version. Both versions allow you to listen to calls in real time expansion and heterodyne and you can playback in real time expansion, heterodyne or time expansion modes. The trigger sensitivity and sample rate are adjustable and three gain settings allowing users to optimise their detector to their target bat species and ambient conditions.

SM4BAT FS

The SM4BAT FS is a full spectrum detector for passive surveying use. Robust and weatherproof, it will record 16-bit full spectrum calls and can store up to 512GB of data. A versatile scheduling function allows you to set when you want to record and the battery can last up to 450 hours. The SM4BAT FS is easy to fit to a tree or post and is compatible with a variety of accessories such as GPS unit and microphone extension cables. The SMM-U2 ultrasonic microphone is available with the SM4BAT FS and is a highly sensitive microphone that produces high quality, low noise bat recordings over long distances. Easy to set up and producing detailed call recordings for analysis, the SM4BAT FS is ideal for unattended use in the field.

Anabat Swift

The Anabat Swift from Titley Scientific is based on the excellent design of the Anabat Express, but has the advantage of recording in full-spectrum, as well as zero crossing. Users can choose between sample rates of 320 or 500kHz and data is saved onto an SD card. Two SD card slots are available, allowing you to save more bat calls without changing cards. The Swift also has a built-in GPS receiver that automatically sets the clock, calculates sunset and sunrise times and records the location of the device. It will also record automatically from sunrise to sunset every night (based on GPS coordinates) as one of the automatic recording settings.

BatLure

The BatLure can be used as a lure to improve catch rates of bats for survey or research, to attract bats to new artificial roosts such as bat boxes or constructed hibernacula, with bat detectors at training events or prior to bat walks and for calibration of bat detectors. The Batlure can playback sounds with frequencies of up to 100kHz and is capable of playing both real time and time expanded recordings of bat vocalisations. It is very compact and robust and has a tripod attachment mount, making it easy to set-up in your desired location. It plays sounds from an SD card which is supplied complete with several pre-loaded recordings. Users can also add their own recordings onto the card.

Ecotone Ultra Thin Series M mist net for bats

The Ecotone Ultra Thin Series M is ideal for catching bats and is available in 2 mesh sizes. Both are made from nylon (0.8mm monofilament) and have 4 shelves. Available in lengths from 3m to 21m, you can pick the mesh size and length that best suits your survey and situation.

 

Explorer Premium Digital Endoscope Camera

The Explorer Premium Digital Endoscope is lightweight and easy to operate. It can record still images or video on to a microSD / microSDHC card (not included). The screen can be detached whilst the camera is in operation and viewed up to 10m away. The camera head has a diameter of 9mm and the cable is 91cm long, giving easy access to nest boxes, burrows, nests, crevices etc. Lighting levels can be adjusted to minimise disturbance to animals.

Accessories

Below are some accessories that may come in use when surveying bats:

Petzl Actik Headtorch
£39.95

Stainless Steel Hand-Held Counter
£7.50

Animal Handling Gloves
£5.69 5.99

dialMax Vernier Dial Caliper
£29.99

ETI Hygro-Thermo Pocket Sized Hygrometer
£21.95 26.99

Small Mammal Holding Bag
£3.60

Telescopic Inspection Mirror
£14.99 16.99

High Flier Mist Net Support System (for Bats)
 from £695.00

Further Reading

Below are some books that may come in use when surveying bats:

Bat Roosts in Trees£39.99
British Bat Calls £18.99
Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists£29.99
The Bat Worker’s Manual£17.99

A note on licensing

Please note that in the UK, all bats and their resting or breeding places are protected by law. Any bat survey work must be undertaken by a licensed bat ecologist and when purchasing certain products, we ask you to confirm your lisence or give an appropriate reference. For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/bat-licences.

Supplier interview: Volker Runkel of ecoObs

Volker Runkel of ecoObs

ecoObs are a small German company at the forefront of full spectrum bat call recording and identification. They produce the Batcorder 3, a highly optimised bat detector (each new microphone arrives with its own calibration factor to ensure that comparisons between units are valid) designed to consistently record bat calls of sufficiently high quality to make auto-identification possible. Calls can then be processed using ecoObs software bcAdmin 3.0, bcAnalyse 2.0 and batIdent. These enable the rapid and accurate identification of common bat species, speeding up the identification process by up to 70% and allowing users to focus more time on rare or interesting bat species. We asked ecoObs co-founder and managing director Volker Runkel to introduce the company.

Tell us a little about your company and how you got started

For my PhD thesis I developed a quite basic and rather well working solution for passive monitoring of bats. Already then I saw that automation in data collection as well as analysis was one of the keys to focus on, instead of all raw analysis work. We quickly realized there is a huge demand for such a solution. We then were lucky and found an engineer who partnered up with us and redesigned the hardware so it was power efficient, small and easy to use. The batcorder system was born.

ecoObs Batcorder 3
ecoObs Batcorder 3

What challenges do you face as a company in the ecology/natural history sector?

The sector is rather small and as a hardware producer we for example often have problems acquiring small quantities of parts. In electro-engineering small companies still require some hundred thousand parts while we ask for a mere thousand. Also the demand for devices is highly seasonal – 90% of orders arrive within a few weeks in spring when the bat season starts. On the other end, we have a very vivid and heterogeneous bat worker scene.

What do you consider the most important achievement of your company in recent years?

I think getting the batcorder and the analysis software out in the wild and thus pushing the whole field of passive monitoring and automated bat call identification to where it is now. When we started in 2004 no one believed it would be ever working, and now a rising number of devices and software exists.

What is your most memorable wildlife/natural history encounter?

Spotting and touching an Echidna in the wild!

Browse all ecoObs products

 

The NHBS Batalogue 2012 – available now

NHBS Batalogue 2012The Batalogue is our annual catalogue of bat detectors and accessories for bat work and bat groups. There are hundreds of products and accessories to choose from, along with detailed specifications and comparison charts.

How to get the Batalogue

Option #1  Browse the Batalogue online

Option #2 Call (+44 (0) 1803 865913), or email us, for a free printed copy

New user info for the Echo Meter EM3 Bat Detector from Wildlife Acoustics

We recently received the following information from Wildlife Acoustics to help you get the most out of your Echo Meter EM3 Bat DetectorEcho Meter EM3

 

Dear EM3 User,

Congratulations on your purchase of the Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter EM3 Bat Detector! We think the EM3 represents the most advanced technology available in a handheld detector and provides unparalleled functionality at a fraction of the price of other professional detectors. A piece of equipment with this much technology does, however, have a learning curve. To help you master the skills necessary to get the best performance from your new detector we would like to share some tips and best practices (and common mistakes) we have learned since its release. We think the following information will help you get the most out of your EM3.

Update your firmware!

We are constantly making improvements to all of our products via firmware updates. These improvements can include important bug fixes as well as new functionality or requested features. We provide these updates at no charge to add further value to our products. Please go to www.wildlifeacoustics.com/downloads to download the latest version of firmware and read the release notes on what has changed. The current firmware version loaded on your Echo Meter can be seen on the top left of the “splash screen” at start-up. At the time of this email we are on version 1.1.2.

Introducing a whole new approach to zero crossing

With this email we would like to introduce a free new software we have developed called Kaleidoscope and a whole new approach to zero crossing. Kaleidoscope converts WAV or WAC files into zero crossing files with incredible quality and speed. In fact the results are superior not only to any existing zero crossing conversion software but they are also superior to what would be possible with native zero crossing. Don’t just trust us, try it and let us know what you think!

The conversion is incredibly fast. It can convert several nights of data in just a few minutes. This represents a 30x improvement over our existing WAC2WAV software, which was on par or faster than any other conversion software.

Kaleidoscope can even convert zero crossing to WAV (yes you read that right). This is a great way to be able to convert your Zero Crossing files into audible WAV files. Kaleidoscope is available on the download page of our site (see the link above). It is currently in Beta and will ultimately replace our WAC2WAV conversion software.

What about native zero crossing?

As you know the EM3 also has the ability to record zero crossing files natively and you might be wondering how that compares to full spectrum files converted to zero crossing using Kaleidoscope. We feel the results from Kaleidoscope are superior to native zero crossing, whether it be on the EM3 or any other zero crossing recorder. The zero crossing results from Kaleidoscope are so good and the conversion is so fast that we are now recommending this as the best approach. Feel free to test this out if you need convincing. You can record simultaneously in WAV and zero crossing, convert the WAV files to zero crossing and compare the results.

If you do prefer to stick with the native zero crossing, here are a couple tips to get the best results. Always be sure to adjust the zero crossing sensitivity (just hold down the speaker button until you enter FDAdj made). The default setting is quite high and will not pick up many bats. Also, always adjust the setting using headphones. If you adjust using the speaker, the feedback from the speaker will result in a much higher than optimal setting. You want to set the level just to the point where you only hear a little noise rather than a constant din of noise. This should be three or four squares on the display.

We have found that the GPS attachment for the EM3 can introduce noise into the zero crossing circuit. This necessitates setting the sensitivity up a couple squares. For best zero crossing results with the GPS please consider our recommendation to use WAC and convert using Kaleidoscope. As an added bonus, when using the GPS in WAC mode, you will retain not only the location of every recording but the entire transect path. Kaleidoscope can output the recording locations and the path during the conversion process into a KML file compatible with Google Earth!

Try Real Time Expansion (RTE)!

We have included three monitoring modes in the EM3. Heterodyne and Frequency Division were included for those familiar and comfortable with those technologies. We also developed our own novel technique for monitoring called Real Time Expansion. This technique provides all of the frequency and timing information of the original call. It has superior tonality to Frequency Division and does not require tuning like Heterodyne. We consider it the best monitoring method on the market. If you have been using Heterodyne or Frequency Division, we strongly encourage you to try RTE.

Screen adjustments

Remember that you can adjust both the brightness and contrast of the screen to suit any lighting condition and preference. If you momentarily press and release the Display button, you can then adjust brightness using either the Plus and Minus buttons or Up and Down buttons. The contrast is adjusted using the Right and Left Arrow buttons. You can also switch between “black on white” and “white on black” display modes by holding down the Display button.

Getting back to the present

We have seen a common confusion where users are monitoring for bats while scrolling back through the spectrogram buffer to look at past calls. When you are viewing calls at or near the end of the buffer and a bat comes along the end of the buffer begins to disappear as new data is written to the front. This can give the illusion that you are viewing “the present bat” because the buffer begins to move making the spectrogram scroll. To get “back to the present” to see the new bat calls being written to the spectrogram, just double click the X/Y button.

Use headphones for best sound quality

The speaker on the EM3 was included for convenience and can provide an excellent monitoring experience, but for the very best quality, we encourage you to try monitoring with headphones. Headphones have better fidelity, greater volume and more bandwidth than the speaker so they really bring the bat playback to life.

Always use the EM3 with charged batteries

The EM3 monitors battery level and automatically shuts down when the battery is near depletion. This prevents the circuitry from getting into a state where it is not appropriately powered resulting in erratic behavior. But if you power up the unit with nearly depleted batteries, it will exhibit this erratic behavior before the detector gets the chance to determine that the batteries are nearly depleted. It will be stuck in bad state and you will not be able to power down without removing a battery. Batteries tend to regain voltage over short durations of no use. This means that if you do not charge the batteries after using them and then power up the detector after some time, the batteries will have regained just enough voltage to power up but not enough to supply proper power. Also be aware, that the EM3 is never truly off, but in a deep sleep state so as to be able to retain the spectrogram buffer and clock. After a few weeks the batteries will deplete even after no use.

If you get stuck, reset

If, while using the EM3, you find that you have made a bad setting or gotten into an unknown state you can always reset the unit back to factory defaults. You simply pop a battery from the battery tray and reinsert while holding down the left button. Continue holding the button until the splash screen appears. Sometimes an apparently broken unit can be something as simple as the brightness having been turned quite a low at night appearing as though it won’t power up in the morning! This procedure would reset the brightness setting to default, apparently bringing the unit back to life.

Happy detecting.

Wildlife Acoustics, Inc.

Available now from NHBS

NHBS Equipment Team:

+44 (0)1803 865913

customer.services@nhbs.co.uk