Today I helped with the counting of hibernating bats in the surroundings of Wageningen. Several places in the area, such as some old brick-yards and an old ice house, are monitored every year for hibernating bats by a group of volunteers, and this year (for the third time), I joined them.
Counting hibernating bats involves looking into every crack and crevice that you can find, while twisting your body into every imaginable position in order to see every corner. All the while looking upward in a dark, mouldy tunnel/chamber/hole. However, when you spot a small ball of fur with some ears and wings, your adrenaline starts rushing, as you have found another bat. People who have never seen a bat up close most probably can’t imagine it, but bats are actually very soft and fluffy! Unfortunately, spotting the bat is not everything, it has to be identified as well. Luckily we had some experienced people with us, and after a while everybody could identify most common species. During the day we saw quite some bats, of four species in total.
In the old ice house, the bats are always hanging more in the open, and I was able to photograph a whiskered bat, deep in hibernation.
Finally winter is back in the Netherlands with subzero temperatures during the night. To celebrate this, I set the alarm at a time when it was still properly dark, and put on as many clothes as I could to cycle to a nearby Nature reserve. I was hoping for a nice sunrise with some fog, as the sky had been clear all night. Unfortunately, there was not a bit of fog in sight when I arrived at the Jufferswaard to take some pictures of the frozen water and hoar frost. There were also no clouds, so I minimized the amount of sky in the frame and took al my pictures before sunrise, as after sunrise the light quickly became to harsh and I could go home again.
When I arrived at my bike, the hoar frost had taken my bike and transformed it into an icicle. Luckily it still functioned and I was back home right in time for breakfast and a warm cup of coffee.
The last two days I was on a short trip to the Dwingelderveld, a National Park in the Dutch province Drenthe. The weather was grey and wet, which combined very nicely with the open plains and lonely juniper bushes, especially when converted to black and white. The Dwingelderveld is a beautiful area, which I can strongly recommend, although I would advise people to go there during the spring or summer, when the fens are filled with amphibians and surrounded by insects.
The first Photo of the Month on the new website is an image I took during the short period of snow we had in the beginning of December 2012. I didn’t have much time to go out and take pictures, so I took my camera with me during field work and spend 30 minutes during lunch brake taking some pictures. Because I didn’t have a tripod with me, and because of the amount of branches sticking out from the snow, I decided to experiment with unsharp pictures due to camera shake. I really liked this black and white version, which conveyed the mood I was looking for.