An exceptionally serendipitous mammalian find came my way today, in an unlikely place. I had to visit the heart of the sprawling campus of Ohio State University, to speak to Angelika Nelson's ornithology class at Jennings Hall. That was fun, and I got to pontificate about wood-warblers - thanks for having me, Angelika!
On the short walk back to the parking garage following the lecture, a very interesting animal turned up and caused an unexpected delay in my schedule.
Anyway, look closely at the second whitish cement rectangle from the ground on the building in the foreground. To me, it stuck out like a sore thumb, and I knew what I was in for.
A minor dilemma ensued, as I was off to west campus next, to meet with Erin, Matt, and Paul - the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas team. I had said I would be over there at 1 pm, and this darned bat was going to throw a wrench in that timing as it'd take a while to go get my gear, return, and make some images.
After a nanosecond of deliberation, it dawned on me that the soon-to-be late meeting was with a bunch of biologists, and who better would understand my excuse for being tardy?! So it was back to the car and the camera was toted back to the bat, who now can appear on the Internet.
Red bats normally hide amongst leaf clusters, such as the long persistent dead brown leaves of American Beech trees. When dangling from a branch, surrounded by old leaves, a red bat is nearly impossible to spot. They are consummate leaf mimics when in repose.
Note the animal's gorgeous burnt-orange pelage, tinted hoary with frosted hair tips. A striking bat indeed. I don't have much experience photographing bats - after all, one doesn't often encounter them, or at least I don't. The relatively few opportunities that I have come across bats in photographable situations, I've found them to be challenging subjects. Bats are just very good at tucking up into an amorphous furry ball, and it can be hard to tell what they are sometimes.