What do ecologists do on a warm, calm evening in July?
When conditions are perfect for bats but you haven’t got a bat survey booked in (and you haven’t been called out to rescue any grounded bats!) ?
Well…. we decided to walk around our local patch and test – the Anabat Scout bat detector. Titley Scientific kindly allowed us to loan a detector so that we could put it through its paces.
If you have read our other blogs, you will know that just like other ecologists, we use a variety of equipment in our job to help us with our professional work. We are also always open to trying out new bits of kit, as well as purchasing new equipment if it will help to improve the quality and robustness of our work.
Although we have a range of detectors to choose from, our current, go-to bat detectors for professional surveys include the Batlogger M and the Bat Box Griffin.
The aim of this latest test was to look at:
- The functionality, operation and usefulness of the Anabat Scout
- A comparison between the Anabat Scout and Batlogger M.
What we like – the practical aspects
The Anabat Scout is lightweight and comfortable in the hand. There is a wrist lanyard to secure your hold. This cord could easily be replaced with a longer length for those who prefer to loop the detector around their neck, which then enables you to free up a hand when needed.
When switched on, the set-up of the Scout is straightforward and the menu is fairly intuitive. The screen has a clear yellow text with all relevant information displayed e.g. time and date, call frequency, recording mode, battery level and SD memory. There is also a very useful bat counter function, so that you can log the number of bats leaving and entering a roost during a survey. However, it is worth noting that the screen text is a little on the small side, so for those of us who need reading glasses, don’t leave your glasses at home, you will definitely need them to read the screen!
The menus are quite intuitive, and the buttons located on the front of the Scout are well-separated and easy to locate in the dark.
One other notable feature is the sound quality. With the use of headphones we set the volume on the Scout to a comfortable level for hearing bat passes, and the background ‘white noise’ was noticeably quieter than both the Batlogger M and Griffin machines at a similar setting.
How it performed
As predicted, the Anabat Scout microphone isn’t as sensitive as the microphone in the Batlogger M. Running the detectors side by side, we frequently detected bats earlier with the Batlogger M, and on a few occasions quiet bat sounds were not detected on the Anabat Scout at all, but were heard on the Batlogger M. The Scout’s microphone sensitivity is certainly comparable to the Griffin, and overall the Scout performed well during our trial, enabling us to hear common and soprano pipistrelles as well as Daubenton’s at a wooded site with an adjacent lake.
We liked the choice of auto tuning and heterodyne options as well as the auto recording or manual recording on the Anabat Scout. However, it is worth noting that with only 2 AA batteries in the Anabat Scout, there is a noticeable drain on the power with auto recording and frequent triggered manual recording (from 100% to 68% power in one hour of use with Duracell industrial batteries). There is a risk that you will lose battery power quickly if you have a lot of data to record. Go prepared with extra batteries and don’t leave the Scout on the auto record setting if you don’t have to, or you will have hundreds of files to download which can be time consuming. We recorded 447 files in one hour on auto record!
Would we buy one?
Well, yes! We would and we did! We are currently enjoying an extended test of the Anabat Scout and so far it has proved to be a great addition to our existing collection of bat detectors.
The next test is to try out our new Scout detector on a noctule maternity roost found locally in an oak tree. Look out for our next blog to find out more about the rescue and return of a juvenile noctule to the tree roost.
Thanks to Andrew Dobson at Titley Scientific in Chorley, Lancashire for the loan of the Anabat Scout.
As always, if you would like our advice and support for any aspect of your work, including how to choose and use bat detectors for bat surveys, please get in touch.
If you are involved in a development project, we can provide expert guidance about bats, as well as undertaking bat surveys and assessments.
If you are an ecologist, we offer 1-1 and small group mentoring, as well as formal training, both face to face and via webinars.