Bat Research Trip in Taga
A while ago now I sent an E-Mail to a Professor at Nara University, Maeda-San, who specialises in bat research. At the time he was preparing to retire from his post in Nara, but promised to contact me again after that.
Well, he kept his promise and in May I was invited to join him and a small team on a research trip in Taga. The objective of the trip was to update the group's information about a colony of bats in Taga's caves that they have been monitoring for some time now.
We met at Taga museum; a small, but nice, building shared with a local library. From there Abe-San, a researcher from the museum, drove us up a narrow winding river valley to the park where the cave is located. Although I seem to say this a lot on this blog, the scenery was really beautiful and the last part of route walking along the riverside in particular was wonderful.
We stopped a little short of the cave entrance and had lunch on some rocks by (and in) the river. Then we got ready to go down into the cave (You can see us, with Maeda-San on the left and Abe-San on the right, outside the entrance on the bottom right of the picture below).
The entrance was quite small, but it soon opened out into a large centeral cavern with a few small, short side passages.
We got to work quickly picking lower bats off the wall by hand, and using long padded sticks and nets to catch those roosting higher up.
It was a great chance to get up close, and have a great encounter with these amazing animals. Before going Haru wasn't sure about the idea of meeting bats, but as soon as we got there she quickly got really excited and eager to get hands on and hold some bats herself.
Most of the bats were a rare species of Tube-nose bat.
Though we did see a single Horseshoe bat as well.
After being weighed
they were set free again.
We spent about 3 hours in total inside the cave, though it really didn't seem so long. Everybody was so nice and friendly it was a great experience and we both really enjoyed ourselves. I think that Maeda-San was happy to have a new interested people to talk to. Haru says he was full of interesting stories, but my Japanese wasn't good enough to follow what he was saying.
We recorded information for about 70-80 bats altogether. The last one proving the hardest to tag as he had hidden himself away in a very small space we couldn't reach inside. However, with some rock climbing, a pen and a pair of chopsticks he was finally extracted from his little nook.
Then it was time to resurface.
We drove back to the museum with Abe-San and then there was a behind the scenes tour of the museum's collection - which I missed because I didn't relise what they were doing! Then we headed into Taga and had a look around the old shrine there.
Taga is another of those places that without having worked to make contacts, and having Haru willing to drive, I doubt I would have been able to see - but I'm very happy we went.
Next week there's going to be a rice planting festival there and the research group mentioned a firefly and bat research trip coming up soon (which I think we've been invited too) so it looks like we'll be back in Taga soon.
Well, my next report will be about gold, Samurais and cos-play :-) But for now here's one last bat for you all - bye!