Digging Holes and Installing Poles

I’ve graduated from assembling bat boxes to sticking them into the ground. I spent my Thursday and Friday down at The Benbow Inn, where the my data will be collected. After arriving mid morning on Thursday, I joined one of the Benbow maintenance staff (named Zach) on a trip to Ace Hardware to pick up the posts I needed. The posts needed to be at least 16 feet tall and at least 4×4. Once purchased, Zach helped me load the posts into the truck and we headed back to the inn. There I spent some time screwing brackets onto the boxes themselves and drilling guide holes into the posts for the mounting bolts. While I worked on that, another employee started digging the 3 foot holes needed to place the posts into. Poor Kyle was then stuck with me until 3pm on Friday, digging holes, dragging posts, carrying equipment and hauling gravel as we installed five boxes around the Benbow property.

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Boxes with the mounting brackets attached.

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Kyle drilling guide holes into the posts. Between the two days, we burned through four drill batteries. The guides holes seemed to be taking forever, until I realized that the drill had a faster setting. That sped things up considerably.

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Boxes mounted onto the poles, waiting to be installed.

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Sample three foot hole and gravel collected from the stream bed. This was one of the easiest holes to dig, as it was mostly river sand. Some of the others gave us more trouble, between big rocks and tough roots. It was hard work!

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(Left) First box installed, located on the edge of the garden.
(Right) Box installed at a potential location for a permanent bat structure. Is located just across the stream from the back of the inn, on a slight incline. One of the hardest spots to dig and install.

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(Left) Another difficult to install box. About 100m upstream from the box on an incline.
(Right) Kyle showing off next to the final box installation of the day, also along the stream.

About installation locations:

  • All the boxes are about 13 feet high. Both Bat Conservation Management (BCM) and Bat Conservation International (BCI) recommend places boxes at least 10 feet high, with higher boxes generally being more successful at attracting and retaining bats.
  • All five boxes installed on the property face an azimuth between 120 and 150 degrees (generally southeast). This is to ensure a maximum amount of sun exposure during the day.
  • Box locations were selected to be between 30m to 150m from the roost building (the inn). It is also recommended that boxes be placed within 400m of a water source (all of my boxes are within 100m of the river) and between 10m to 30m from a tree line or cover source. Finally, boxes should rise above any underlying vegetation, to allow bats space to approach and leave the box without having to avoid additional obstacles.

In addition to installing boxes, I also did some interacting with the bats in the attic. I’ll post more details about how the bat are doing later.

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