Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bats at Home

Honduran White Tent Bats, Costa Rica

Photography can sometimes border on obsession. I tired for years to find a daytime roost for these wonderful snow-white bats in the lowland rain forests of Costa Rica - without success. I consulted experts, hired guides, and checked hundreds, if not thousands, of likely-looking leaves in areas where I knew the bats were found. Nothing. 
Inevitably, that sort of failure rate can result in an almost pathological obsession to find them. I would not be denied. But it was probably 15 years before I stumbled onto this lovely group of bats under a low-hanging heliconia leaf. Instantly I discovered where I had gone wrong all these years.  First of all, these bats are SMALL. A full-grown Tent Bat is smaller than my wife's fist - e.g. just four inches long. This entire cluster of bats (12?  I'm not sure) could fit in both hands. I had, for all those years, been looking for something much bigger.
I had also, it turns out, been looking too high.  This leaf, believe it or not, is hanging just over a foot above the ground, barely high enough (you would think) for the bats to safely fly in and out.  To get this picture, therefore, I had to lie flat on my back looking straight up, using an ultra-wide-angle lens.  It was all a VERY tight squeeze.
So... Am I satisfied?  Has my obsession abated?  I'm happy with the picture...and yet... This, then,  is the true nature of obsession: I'd still like to find a roost with 20-25 bats... At least next time I will know where to look!

Nikon D3 with 14-24mm lens


  1. Oh! They are CUTE!! Yes please, find 20 of them!
    I am a huge bat fan. Bats are amazing. Seeing wild fruit bats in Aus last year was a lifetime thrill.

  2. Well, if you ever go to Costa Rica, give me a shout : I'll tell you where to find them!

  3. That's somewhere I'd love to go one day! :) I will.