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……

The future of bat detectors

Don’t get too excited, it’s only a mock up

The basic rule of technology is everyhting gets smaller, more capable and cheaper, though so far the application of that rule to bat detectors seems stalled at the £1000 mark for anything of serious use.

I’ve been using Ultramics for two years now to capture realtime full spectrum recordings at Myotis swarming sites. Up until now that’s required a netbook to run the software, not massively cumbersome but combine it with infrared video kit and a trek across moorland and you certainly feel the weight.

So it was good to hear from Ivano at Dodotronic that they’re working on an android compatible version of the Ultramic; the Ultradroid. A small ultrasound microphone combined with the computing power of a 7″ tablet? The potential to record, geolocate and identify bat calls in realtime all with a full colour easily visible display?

I’ve already bought a Google Nexus7 tablet, I’m ready.

 

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.

UPDATE

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”.

 

Video and IR LED Illuminator set up

I was so impressed when I saw Pat Waring’s video presentation at the BCT northern bat workers conference I thought I’d build something similar. While Pat’s system from www.batmanagement.com was great it was also quite pricey and would involve importation from the states.

Pat Waring's set up

Pat Waring’s set up

So I headed off the eBay.

I quick search of the term “IR LED Illuminator” brought up a fair array of choices, most of which were located in China or Hong Kong but given a max price of £10 for a 48 led 850nm unit I guessed it was worth a punt. Sit back for a few weeks until the units arrive and then a quick trip to Maplins for the necessary leads and fittings.

eBay IR LED Illuminator set up

eBay IR LED Illuminator set up

 

Video IR setup from the back

Video IR setup from the back

For just under £50 I managed to get a 4 x 48 IR LED Illuminator set up which runs off the same 7ah 12v battery I use through autumn to power remote Anabats monitoring swarming sites.

I’m using a Sony HDR SR5 video camera which has the all essential 0 lux nightshot setting and records direct to a 40gb hard drive (again an eBay purchase – £100 brand new unused).

Note the 850nm illuminators have a very dull red glow when on, but emerging Brown Long Eared bats haven’t been affected by them so I figure in a barn setting they’re unlikely to be a disturbance factor. Last night they managed to pick up non echolocating BLE’s light sampling in the apex of a barn roof it would have been easy to miss if you were relying just on detectors (I was using both Anabat and Pettersson 240x, Anabat missed them and the 240x only recorded very faint echolocations which couldn’t be seen in Batsound v4).

If you’re surveying sites such as barns likely to have Brown Long Eareds or Myotis sp can you afford not to use video to strengthen your survey methodology?

Here’s an example of the footage and detail you can capture (actual footage is fullHD out of the camera)

[tube]2v-_8MGfhnE[/tube]

 

 

Maglite XL50 LED Torch

Maglite XL50 LED Torch

From: www.maglite.com

Pro’s: Small, light, good light output.

Cons: Care needed to prevent accidentally turning it on when not it use.

Maglite XL50

Maglite XL50

LED torches offer two advantages for bat workers; one is improved battery life and the other is next to no heat emission. The Maglite XL50 runs on three AAA batteries and has three light settings cycleable via the push button switch at the back of the torch: high, low and strobe. High offers 104 lumens and a battery burn time of 8h45m; low reduces output to 25% giving a battery life of 36h. On low setting the torch offers plenty of focussed light to check all but the deepest crevices.

The torch is small and light enough to carry day to day although it’s easy for the rear mounted push button to get knocked when in pockets resulting in unecessary battery drain.

The XL50 is a great little survey torch.

Hope R4 headlamp

Hope R4 headlamp – £225 (at time of press)

From: www.hopetech.com

Pro’s: Very versatile with multiple light levels. Great flood light in larger caverns Good battery life at lower light settings

Cons: Needs second battery for extended trips underground. Overpowered for day to day surveying.

Hope R4 headtorch

Hope R4 headtorch

As part of the East Lancashire Bat Group project “Bats Underground” we’ve been undertaking swarming and hibernation surveys of Rossendale flagstone quarry tunnels where I found the light of my Petzl Spelios a bit underpowered in the larger caverns. This is where the Hope R4 headtorch came in.

The 4 x Cree XPG head unit

The 4 x Cree XPG head unit

The Hope R4 is designed primarily as a bike light but comes as standard with a headtorch adaptor to allow it’s use as a “multisport” light. With 4 Cree XPG LED’s sequenced through the top mounted button to offer 6 levels of light including a  maximum of 1000 lumens this is a serious bit of kit. In truth it’s probably too much even at it’s lowest level for day to day bat surveying, but for large systems it’s superb. The 2600mah li-ion battery offers burn times ranging from 1.15hours on high to 8.00 hours on low, I’ve alsways found the medium light setting to give plenty of light to navigate quarry tunnels while still offering circa 4 hours of light. A larger 5200mah battery option is available.

Specs:

  • Light Source: 4 x Cree XPG, R5 Bin
  • Light Output: 1000 measured lumens, 1446 generated lumens
  • Beam: Diffused uniform beam (+/- 12.5°)
  • Distance: 105m
  • Battery: 7.4v Li-Ion, 2600mAh
  • Charge time: 3 Hours
  • Weight: 235g (std), 338g (epic), 367g (endurance)
  • Power levels: 6 (two sequences of three), including flash
  • Burn time: 1:15 hrs – 8:00 hrs

Petzl Spelios Helmet/Headlamp

Petzl Spelios Helmet/Headlamp

From: www.petzl.com

Pro’s: Great lighting in confined spaces, uses common AA battery, good burn time on LED

Cons: Feels underpowered in larger caverns and tunnels.

Petzl Spelios

Petzl Spelios

The Petzl Spelios is the industry standard for caving helmet/headlight combo’s and for good reason. If you’re considering venturing underground to carry out hibernation surveys or carry out cave research then this is the helmet you need to consider as a starting point.

Spelios showing Duo 14

Spelios showing Duo 14

The lighting element of the Spelios is delivered via an integral Duo 14 LED headtorch which features a switched halogen / LED light. In confined spaces such as small caves and roofspaces the 14 LED array should deliver as much light as is needed but the flood style spread will suffer in larger systems. The Halogen can be focused to an extent but it’s rare that I find a use for it  and it obviously has an impact on battery life compared to the LEDS.

Spelios battery pack

Spelios battery pack

The rear mounted battery pack balances the helmet nicely in use and houses 4 AA batteries. A rechargeable unit is available as an extra purchase but I find it’s just as easy to carry spare rechargeable batteries with you.

The helmet is available in two sizes covering head circumferences of 48-56 cm and 53-61 cm.

Specs:

  • Beam pattern : wide or focused
  • Max. light quantity : 67 lumens
  • Max. lighting distance : 100 m
  • Max. battery life : 183 h
  • Constant lighting : yes
  • Operates on four AA / LR6 batteries or ACCU DUO (not included)
  • Battery compatibility: alcalines, lithium, rechargeables ni-mh, rechargeables ni-cd
  • Watertightness : IP X8 (waterproof down to -5 meters)
  • Spare halogen bulb included
  • Certification(s) : CE EN 12492, UIAA
  • Weight : 505 g

 

Alpkit Gamma Headtorch

 Alpkit Gamma Headtorch – £15 (at time of press)

From: www.alpkit.com

Pro’s: Cheap, great varied light options.

Cons: Sells out quick.

Alpkit Gamma

Alpkit Gamma

I’m a big fan of Petzl headtorches and have been for years but the Alpkit Gamma is a fantastic bit of kit, suitable for every bat worker and you can get three for the price of one Petzl. A bargain.

Gamma close up

Gamma close up

The main XPC Cree LED throws enough light for navigating to survey sites, and has two switchable levels should you need to extend battery life. Once on site and for areas where you want minimum light spillage/disturbance a long hold down of the top button switches to cycle through the three smaller 5mm leds which offer white, green or red light. All three settings should offer enough light for tuning detectors, etc.

Battery life is good, it runs on three AAA batteries and even comes supplied with Duracell as standard. If you’re working on dimly lit road transects the rear battery case has a seperately switched flashing/constant red light which aids visibility.

A great addition to any survey kit bag and well worth getting as a back up for underground too.

Headtorch specs:

  • 1 x XPC Cree LED (up to 88 lumens)
  • 3 x 5mm LED’s Red, White, Green (1.8 lumens)
  • Weight: 118g with batteries
  • Batteries: 3 x 1.5V AAA alkaline (included)
  • Water resistant: tested to IPX4

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.