How to Photograph a Greater White Lined Bat Using DIY Bat Box
We see a lot of bats on our farm here in Costa Rica, mostly when taking down ripe bunches of bananas. They live within the banana leaves and eat the spiders that the bananas attract. Every time I saw a bat fly out of a bunch I thought I should try bat photography. Catch it in a net and get some photos was my plan. I am normally in the middle of collecting the fruit so I was never actually prepared. One day this bat was nice enough to roost right on the back side of our cabin. So I caught him in a net and quickly started on making a DIY bat box.
I knew I would need an enclosed space with a few windows for light and a large hole for the lens. I made the bat box using a medium sized cardboard box, tape and some screen.
First, I cut out a hole in the top of the box to make a skylight. I put a few twigs that had an extra branch on them over the hole so that hopefully the bat would hang from the top and then I added window screen to keep the bat from getting out. I situated my secondary fill light source above the hole and the bat. The primary light source I had coming in from a hole in the side with a Grid-Spot attached (DIY grid spot instructions), it was also secured with some screen so that the bat would not escape. The final window, in the front of the box, was for the lens. I attached a funnel of screen, secured by a hair band, snugly around the lens so that the bat would not fly at the lens and soil it.
I carefully put the bat in the box. Bats can bite so tare when emptying your net into the box. The bat settled down immediately and perched himself on the branch. I clicked off a few shots and then opened the box so the bat could fly out.
The Greater White Lined Bat has a range of Mexico to Brazil up to 1600 ft (500m). There is one male to 8 females in a harem. They forage for insects at dusk in designated territories, the group in one area but females have separate territories within that area. The males will sing and release scents from underneath it’s wing to attract females, which is why it is better that it finds somewhere else to roost than the side of our cabin.
Living in Costa Rica supplies us with an endless pool of creatures to photograph. See our article on How to shoot snakes or check out our wildlife galleries.