As summer comes to an end in the Sonoran Desert, some of our migratory animals start to leave us. Among those animals is the lesser long-nosed bat, a nectar and fruit-eating bat that winters in Mexico.
The lesser long-nosed bat is moving through our area on its way south, and on their way, they empty our hummingbird feeders.
Last year we tried, and failed, to photograph them by sitting quietly with a remote switch. It didn’t work out well, so this year we took a different approach.
We have a Miops Smart trigger that we use for lightning photos, and recently there was an update to the app that allowed it to be used to trigger by motion.
We used an old iPad and pointed its camera at the feeder to detect when the bats were in the frame. We then set the camera line of sight perpendicular to the iPad.
We have an old (Sigma EM-140) ring flash that’s mainly used for macro photography, and as it turns out it worked for photographing the bats as well.
The iPad “saw” the bats, sent the signal to the Miops, which sent the signal to the camera.
It almost worked too well! We let it run overnight and woke up with over 1000 frames with bats in them.
You may see the photos above and think, “oh that’s neat!” and be tempted to move on with your day. But to really appreciate how awesome the Miops trigger is, you need to understand the conditions we were photographing in.
Not only was it dark, but these bats are unbelievably agile and fast. We set our Sony Handycam out on a tripod for a few hours with the night vision mode turned on to capture how they attack the hummingbird feeder.
The video below is 9 minutes of those two hours.
We love our yearly visit from these important pollinators, and we’re so excited that we finally got some decent photos of our nectar-thieving assault squirrels.
We hope you enjoy the video and the photos, and if you’d like to learn more about these bats, here are some great resources:
Lesser Long-Nosed Bat Fact Sheet – Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
Meet the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat – Bat Conservation International
Lesser Long-Nosed Bat – USDA Forest Service