Radar observations play an important role in the emerging, transdisciplinary field of Aeroecology and NOAA’s National Mosaic of 150 NEXRAD radar installations provides a treasure trove of data for population monitoring and studies of phenology, migration, and aerial behavior of “bioscatter” such as birds, insects, and bats.

Nightly observances lead to interesting hypotheses that require more time and financial support to fully investigate, and volunteers are welcome to express interest on our volunteer page.  It could be anything from funding studies to data entry to boots-on-the-ground investigation of previously unknown roosts.

The Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor public website is a joint initiative between the National Severe Storms Lab, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Weather Service, and the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute in Mesoscale Meterological Studies.  The MRMS is a mosaic of national NEXRAD radar installations and sensors.

We have used the MRMS site to track Central Texas bat emergences every night for the last five years (2012-2016).  The Multi-Radar-Multi-Sensor site was brought in-house by NOAA on Feb 28, 2017.  The public site had not been well supported since Oct 2016.  Jian Ziang of the NSSL and OU School of Meteorology said the limited data (on a legacy page) was very spotty because “The legacy website was accessible to the public because it was hosted on a university domain, and we don’t have the funding to continue to support that anymore.”  For a while, starting Jan 2017 the legacy page had become more reliable but with just a few months of data available.  We are glad to have archived the previous five years of data before that occurred!

We are happy to have been granted permission to use the new, in-house MRMS site, so we will be able to resume our ongoing five -year study of nightly emergences in the Central Texas Significant Bat Area (CenTex SBA).  This year we are expanding our domain to include the Houston and Corpus Christi areas.
We are at this time awaiting promised security clearance and log-in credentials for the new site, which is undergoing more tweaks and will not be up and running until the end of March 20127.  This seems like very poor planning on behalf of the NSSL to cause a one month hole in radar data.

Here are some of the video highlights we have gleaned from our archives.

Video below: Congress Ave Bridge bats Fall Migration – Halloween 2014

Video Below: Latest Congress Avenue Bridge flight

Video below: Bracken Rules the Roosts: 19Jun2016 UTC
Now that the mega maternity colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats have mostly given birth to their pups, emergences are strong again all across Central Texas in the Significant Bat Area of the Hill Country. Pups are not yet flying!  Bracken Cave, of course, rules the roosts, as usual.

Video below: Frio & Bracken bats cover at least 40 miles in an hour in this video.  Mexican free-tailed bats are capable of flying over twice that fast in unassisted flight.  The location of both caves at the edge of the Texas Hill Country (dark grey at top) gives the bats immediate access to the agricultural fields that attract their favorite food, the corn ear-worm moth.
Could be as many as ~8 million at Bracken and ~6 at Frio, and this is just a snapshot in time, not the whole emergence!
Stuart bat cave and then Rucker emerge later at top left of video.

Video below: Skies Over The Edwards Plateau, from 2009.

Video below: Bracken Cave Fourth of July Farm Aid from 2013.

Video below: Frio & Wind Farm.  What looks like about 3-1/2 million bats (WAG) emerged from Frio Bat Cave and headed south toward the Winter Garden area south of Uvalde, providing free pest-control service to farmers in a large area west toward Bracketville.  Hope they stayed clear of the turbines at the wind farm.