Titley Scientific bought out – A future for Anabat

Breaking news is that Titley Scientific have been bought out by Elexon (details here) which should give a future for both SD2 development and a future supply of the Anabat Roost Logger which I’ve currently got on test and so far have been very pleased with. Note there’s possibly going to be a new distributor in the UK.

For all repairs and support at the moment I’d recommend :http://www.anabat.co.uk/

Anabat Roost Logger

Anabat Roost Logger


I had a good look at the Anabat Roost Logger over the weekend of the National Bat Conference and Chris Corben was good enough to install the drivers on my laptop as well as hand over a folder of recording to get a taste of what it’s capable of recording.

On first look I’m interested. Whilst it isn’t a full blown recording detector capable of species identification, the Roost Logger will enable measurement of activity and identification to genus level. Whilst the microphone is most sensitive at 42khz the results included Lesser Horseshoe calls though the bats have to be within a couple of metres to record from what I’m told. For research into swarming and roost sites this should prove very useful for finding out when bats are active and getting an idea of what you’re likely to encounter. So Roost Logger deployed first to see where to focus survey effort and more expensive kit makes perfect sense.

The whole kit is enclosed within a small pelicase which should make stashing the detector fairly easy in most sites.

I’ve got an Anabat Roost Logger on the way for review and will be getting it straight out monitoring a cave so expect a review by the end of October……

A new Anabat on the way? – Updated

It looks like Titley Scientific are about to release a new version of the Anabat built specifically for long term monitoring in caves, tunnels and roosts.

Anabat Roost Logger

The features all seem sensible enough:

  • Long running times on internal batteries
  • Temperature logging
  • Waterproof case
  • Sealed mic

The rugged peli case style housing looks up to the job and the (let’s hope) waterproof mic will be a great step forward for Anabat. But it raises the question; will the sealed mic be available to retrofit existing detectors?

A long time bugbear of the Anabat when used underground is the, what seems to be, inevitable burn out of the mic once condensation builds. My record is 5 mics in a season monitoring Myotis swarming sites, not just an expense but also frustrating because of lost data and downtime.

As an existing user I don’t want to replace the Anabats I already own, I want a mic that allows me to use them without that headache. It’s one reason I’ve been contemplating switching to the SM2Bat+ from Wildlife Acoustics.

Let’s hope there’s some good news for existing users too.


With a price of £307.20 the Anabat Roost Logger could be a game changer although that depends if it’s capable of species identification or just Monitoring activity levels and temporal patterns at any roost.

Whilst the Titley webpage states it’s compatible with existing software it’s a bit vague on what information is captured. Activity and species ID for under £500? Maybe that’s a bit ‘moon on a stick’ at the moment.

If it is just an activity logger it’s still a useful bit of kit of course, especially for initial swarming site research, but you’ll need to place more expensive kit in the field to identify what bat species are using your site.

*** Update as of 4.9.2012 Reply from Titley states that the datalogger “still presents data in sequence file and ZCA formats, the same as all previous Anabat units. The major difference is the ability to deploy it for long periods and program it to record selectively as the season changes”.


One step closer to automatic ID of bat echolocation

News from iBats is the development of iBatsID a tool for classifying bat calls using ensembles of artificial neural networks (eANN’s) to classify time-expanded recordings of bat echolocation calls from 34 European bat species.

The tool has been trained to identify echolocation calls of Barbastella barbastellus, Eptesicus bottae, E. nilssonii, E. serotinus, Hypsugo savii, Miniopterus schreibersii, Myotis alcathoe, M. bechsteinii, M. blythii, M. brandtii, M. capaccinii, M. dasycneme, M. daubentonii, M. emarginatus, M. myotis, M. mystacinus, M. punicus, Nyctalus lasiopterus, N. leisleri, N. noctula, Pipistrellus kuhlii, P. nathusii, P. pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus, Plecotus auritus, P. austriacus, Rhinolophus blasii, R. euryale, R. ferrumequinum, R. hipposideros, R. mehelyi, Tadarida teniotis, Vespertilio murinus. A fairly comprehensive list.

At present  ID of M. bechsteinii/M. brandtii/ M. daubentonii/ M. mystacinus is only to sub group rather than to species level ( M. myotis/M. blythii/M. punicus;  M. bechsteinii/M. brandtii/ M. daubentonii/ M. mystacinus;  M. emarginatus/M. alcathoe for European readers)

But it’s a great start. The only downside is the current need to process calls with Sonobat first to extract a text file of call parameters.

We can’t be too far now from integrating capturing, geolocating, analysing and identifying echolocation in a single app on a smartphone or tablet such as the Nexus 7.

Link to the paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2012.02182.x/pdf

Link to the iBatsID site: https://sites.google.com/site/ibatsresources/iBatsID


Wildlife Acoustics EM3 – First thoughts.

Wildlife Acoustics EM3 – First thoughts.

EM3 with gps

EM3 with gps

So I’ve had the EM3 for a  couple of survey nights now and had the chance to use it both for static and transect surveys. To start with I’ve used the detector with settings straight out of the box as it’s marketed as being “shipped ready for use” with “settings (which) allow you to begin monitoring bats in minutes”.

Firstky it has to be said that rumours of a flimsy detector seem to be unfounded, it’s not something I’d want to drop onto a hard surface but the EM3 feels sturdy and up to it’s intended use. It fits comfortably in the hand and is light enough not to notice holding it even after a couple of hours use. The self contained nature and lack of faffing with cables is a bonus in this respect.

Plugging in the gps it took about five minutes to obtain a  fix and start displaying lat/long in the status bar of the display which seems reasonable for first use. There isn’t enough leaf canopy coverage to test it’s abilities in woodland at the moment so that’s something for a later test.

Microphone sensitivity seems fine, I’ll be testing it alongside both the D240x and Anabat to get some comparative data, and the default trigger point for recording seems to be a reasonable balance between picking up bats but filtering out car passes and other environmental noise. You will hear fainter bat calls in your headphones that don’t trigger the record setting but it’s down to individual preference or survey aims to decide on where that trigger point should be.

My transect headed out alongside a busy road with several popular Pip feeding spots before dropping into the valley to return alongside a river, pond and sewage farm, usually a guaranteed spot for five species although it’s still quite early in the season so I wasn’t expecting great results. Along the road the detector ignored most passing vehicles but still triggered to record when bats were encountered. All good so far, and the lack of noise files is something that should speed up processing later.

Heading down to the river and away from street lighting I switched the display to white (sonogram) on black (background) from the default black on white to try and keep some night vision but it became noticeably more difficult to pick out the sonogram on the display. This is something I’m going to try to solve next time I’m out by tweaking brightness levels in both settings and seeing which works best. I was happy to leave it because I don’t think there’s much value in trying to identify bats off the small display, I’d rather do that back at home with the recordings on a laptop screen. For me the detector screen seems more suited to monitoring recording state and confirming activity levels.

Back home and it’s time to download the data, which is an easy job of removing the easily accessible SD card and copying files over onto the laptop hard drive. For me the main selling point of the EM3 is it’s ability to record in wav/zca setting which captures both a realtime full spectrum recording and a zero crossing data file. This should allow a quick workflow by use of AnalookW to process the easy species and switching to full spectrum for the Myotis where more songram measurements are useful.

I was a bit surprised to find that although I had 355 full spectrum wav recordings, the detector had only processed 40 zca files. This potentially has a knock on effect for anyone using Batsound for analysis as the time to process 355 calls is considerably longer than 355 data files in AnalookW. It wasn’t partial passes or quiet bats that were missed out on either several busy spots with multiple bat passes had no corresponding zca file. It looks like some tweaking of the zca threshold setting may be needed from default.  I’ll also be comparing recording in wac (Wildlife Acoustics proporietary uncompressed audio) mode then converting the resulting file to zca to see if that gets better results.


So far I’ve been really impressed by both the ergonomics and the potential of the EM3. The promise of monitoring straight out of the box is a hard one to live up to but I reckon with a bit of tweaking default settings to get rid of the niggles the detector should be a very useful survey tool.

Next step is to play with settings then a full review review will be published here

Wildlife Acoustics EM3

Wildlife Acoustics EM3 Active Ultrasonic Bat Detector

From: http://www.wildlifeacoustics.com/

Price: £979.99 plus £199 for GPS

Pro’s: Compact system, full spectrum and zca recording, simplicity.

Cons: ZCA file production needs tweaking, gps noise interference


EM3 packed with everything you need to start recording (gps optional extra)

The Wildlife Acoustics EM3 is a full spectrum bat detector / recorder with the capability to georeference recordings via an optional plug in gps unit. One of the bonuses from a workflow point of view is the ability to record in wav/zca setting which produces both a realtime full spectrum recording and a zero crossing data file suitable for analysis in AnalookW. This in theory allows you to process zca files to identify easier species such as Pipistrelles but have the use of full spectrum calls for more in depth analysis of harder to identify species.

EM3 first look

EM3 up close

First impressions are here.

I’ve been using the EM3 for a full survey season now and have to agree with Dave Dodd’s that whilst it’s the detector I reach for automatically for most work it is also capable of slowly irritating me over the span of a night.

Ergonomically I’m happy with the package of EM3 and gps puck, it’s easier to hold and lighter in the field than an Anabat, gps and pda. I’m still working on eliminating the inevitable sound files created as you shift it in your grip, something a silicone sleeve might resolve. The detector is a perfect set up for transects and with the option of a seperate wired input for an additional microphone should work perfectly for car use too. Although capable of static programmed surveys I think I’d rather leave that to the SM2Bat+ which is designed for the job.

Recording wise the detector took a fair bit of tweaking in threshold settings before I was happy with the production of zca files, this isn’t such a great issue now that Wildlife Acoustics have now released Kaleidoscope a very handy utility for converting wav files to zca that seems to produce very reliable results. Recordings are crisp and clear and the live black and white sonogram display is great for in the field ID of easier species.

The main advantage over the Anabat SD1 and pda is the lack of connections and potential for issues arising from them. Previously with the Anabat SD1 there were weak points between anabat-pda, pda-bluetooth gps that had the potential to decide out of the blue to not talk to each other; a frustrating scenario when you’re out on site and in the dark. I often carried a separate gps and serial lead “just in case”. With only the gps puck to plug in to the EM3 that’s all disappeared, I no longer have that worry at the back of my mind.

I’ve found I tend to monitor calls in the EM3’s RTE mode, effectively a realtime time expansion and keep the four option buttons programmed to flick between 20,45,55, and 110khz hetrodyne modes. A nice and simple system to flick between even in dark conditions.

All good so far. So that annoyance?

It’s a frustrating one; without the gps plugged in headphone sound is superb but once the gps connects it’s a different matter with a low level variable shussing feedback that inevitably becomes a distraction. This seems to happen regardless of whether you’re listening in hetrodyne or rte mode and is the only downside to what could be a very capable detector. Hopefully it’s something that can be cured with a frimware update, support is one thing Wildlife Acoustics have certainly got dialled with user forums and firmware updates.

*Update: After speaking to Sherwood from Wildlife Acoustics at the BCT National Conference it appears the gps noise issue is to do with hardware so unable to be solved by software. It’s a niggle we’re going to have to live with.



Dodotronic UltraMic200k digital USB microphone


Dodotronic UltraMic200k digital USB microphone

From: http://www.dodotronic.com/index.php?center=11&left=1

Pro’s: Real time, full spectrum recording. Futureproof.

Cons: Needs netbook and software so not suitable for transects. Not suitable for all UK species

Dodotronic UltraMic200k

Dodotronic UltraMic200k

Although not strictly speaking a bat detector, combine the Dodotronic UltraMic200k with a netbook and you’ve got a  light and portable mechanism for capturing full spectrum echolocation in realtime (which is where bat detectors are heading) and all for circa £500.

Ultramic200k and Netbook

Ultramic200k and Netbook

With a sample rate of 200k you’ll only record sound up to 100khz with the UltraMic200k so for some species you’re better off spending the extra on the UltraMic250k which captures sound to 125khz. Sound can be captured using BatSound, SeaWave or other software.

Sure it’s more suited to static surveys (I’ve been testing this one at swarming sites), and identification during data sifting is going to take longer; to say nothing of data storage issues associated with large files.

But, and this is a big but, I believe we’re on the cusp of the next stage in bat identification with automatic identification software just over the horizon. Couple one of these mics with a smartphone or tablet running the right software and you’ve got a powerful, affordable and accurate method of surveying and identifying bats in flight.

Link to the User Manual

Expect to see a Ultramic250k review soon.

Anabat SD1 and SD2

Anabat SD1 (now superceded by SD2)

From: http://www.titley-scientific.com/uk/index.php/anabat-bat-detector

Price: £2062 for SD2 and pda kit

Pro’s: Versatile, small data files.

Cons: microphones sensitive to water damage, cost compared to rivals.

Anabat with pda

Anabat set up with gps and pda

The Anabat is a zero crossing bat detector from Titley Electronics and has long been the workhorse for bat workers needing static longterm monitoring. It’s a versatile bit of kit, capable of either static programmed use or coupled with a pda and gps or just a gps to record transect surveys.

I’ve been using Anabat SD1’s and SD2’s for quite a few years now and up until recently relied on them for most of my survey requirements. The live display of sonograms on the pda is a great tool for instant in the field ID and also invaluable as a teaching tool when running bat detector workshops.

The zero crossing analysis files produced by the Anabat are tiny (think kb’s not mb’s) allowing long term monitoring in busy active sites without the need of purchasing multiple expensive data cards. Coupled with a decent external 12v battery it’s possible to leave the detector running up to a month without filling a 2gb CF card. Workflow using AnalookW to analyse all those collected files is reasonably quick too. Note however this is a very visual system with little useful audio output either in the field or back at the computer.

Hi and Lo MIcs

Ergonomically  and weight wise that Anabat and pda are going to be noticeable if you’re carrying one all night although easy enough to handle in the field.

For european batworkers the two mics of interest are the standard mic and the hi mic, the hi mic is recommended where Horseshoe bats may be encountered or where you’re using an extension cable longer than 1 metre.

For me the weak point of the system is the microphone that needs careful thought to protect it from water contact when deploying it in the field. This is easy on open sites where a cover and 45degree sound deflector can be used to keep the mic sheltered. Underground in typical UK 99% humidity conditions I’ve found condensation eventually builds and takes the mic out. Some users compromise recordings and sensitivity by covering the mic in clingfilm to avoid this.

In use with a pda I’ve also had the system corrupt data files in areas of high multiple bat species feeding activity, a frustrating thing to find at the end of what you think has been a good nights survey. Having started using an EM3 this year, I’ve now gone back to connecting the Anabat to a gps only which when combined with BatNav software is a great reliable tool for simple and quick transect work.

In spite of the above drawbacks I still carry two Anabats in my survey bag because they are just so useful to have and use. The anabat is a great system for long term static surveying with low power use and low data storage requirements but with a few tweaks it could be a lot better. In an time of increased competition I’m looking forward to seeing the next iteration of this detector. If it follows the Anabat Roost Logger I’ll be more than happy

Anabat example sonogram

Anabat example sonogram

Anabat users are advised to keep an eye on Chris Corben’s site for the latest firmware and software.

Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air; there’s a definite warmth to the sun now and we’ve got Curlews back on the moors and wild garlic sprouting in the woodlands. This means there’s a need for a change in the survey gear I’ve been using, time to pack away the caving gear and prep the survey bag for 2012

Lowe Pro  Flipside 400AW

Lowe Pro Flipside 400AW

I use a LowePro Flipside 400AW for lugging around my survey gear, it’s just the right size to prevent overpacking and the padding makes carrying everything a not unpleasant experience. So what’s in there?

LowePro open

Everything but the kitchen sink

The great thing about camera bags is the adjustable internal compartments keep everything organised and protected.

So starting from the top of the bag down, I carry:

  • Anabat SD1 with Pda and bluetooth gps.
  • Spare high and low Anabat mics.
  • Anabat SD1 with compactflash card programmed for immediate monitoring.
  • Yukon Digital NV Ranger 5×42 Nightvision monocular
  • Sony HD Camcorder with nightshot
  • Pettersson D240x time expansion bat detector
  • Sennheiser PX100 headphones
  • Edirol R09 HR digital recorder

The small pockets on the inner back usually carry preprogrammed compactflash cards for Anabat to cover dusk til dawn, spare batteries and leads.

And lastly on the outside; a Manfrotto MH293A3-RC1 carbon fibre tripod for the Sony and it’s infrared lighting rig.

If you need more space there’s one more outer pocket that fits ID guides, gloves, thermometer and sample pots.

Everything you need in one place means you’re unlikely to forget anything.