Don’t Miss the Night Sky this Week

Blood Moon (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bpchua/25759275477/)

A lot is going on in the night sky during the last week of July. Some of the shortest nights of the year in the Northern Hemisphere give us a quick glimpse into the heavens.  Planetary viewing is great with Venus the bright Evening Star, Saturn, Mars and Mercury all showing off.

If you are coming out to The Cove, this is a great time to bring your telescope.  If you don’t have one, the sky is still dazzling for those of us that enjoy staying up late.  Ranger Erin will be leading full moon night hikes at 9 pm on Thursday, July 26 in the Deschutes Campground/meet at the store. Also, Sunday July 29 in the Crooked River Campground/meet at the Amphitheater.

Things to Watch For:

Thursday, July 26 – Mars at Opposition – Get ready to see the Red Planet up close: Just after Mars reaches opposition with the sun, observers on Earth will have their closest view of the planet since 2003.  Mars will be brightest, it will reach that closest point on July 31.

Friday, July 27 – Full “Hay” or “Thunder” Moon – It’s also a Blood Moon (The lunar eclipse occurring will not be visible from North America)

July 17 – August 24 – Perseid Meteor Showers (Peak is August 11 and 12)

Fire Ban in Effect Statewide

Governor Brown declared a fire emergency today. In accordance with this, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has temporarily banned campfires in all facilities statewide to help do our part to ensure the safety of Oregon’s Parks and their surrounding communities.  This includes the use of charcoal briquettes, tiki torches, all candles, or any open flame that cannot be immediately turned off with a valve.  Large propane fire rings are not permitted on all sites. (check with the park you are headed to for current restrictions.)  Propane cook stoves are permitted; however propane fires may not be left on and unattended.

Visitors planning a trip to a state park should check for up-to-date information about fire restrictions by calling the state parks info line at 800-551-6949.

Partial Fire Restriction at The Cove

 

blaze bonfire burn burnt
Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

The Cove Palisades Management Unit is instituting a partial campfire restriction effective immediately. 

7 AM – 8 PM  until further notice there will be NO open flames of any kind except for propane cook stoves (allowed for cooking only.)

8 PM – 7 AM small campfires in designated areas within the campgrounds will be allowed, which will include the use of charcoal briquettes and propane stoves.  No citronella or regular candles, tiki torches, or other open flames will be allowed.

These restrictions will remain in effect until we see temperatures and relative humidity change to a less dangerous level – see park website for the most up to date information: The Cove Palisades State Park

If you have questions, please call the park at 541-546-3412.

Bats at The Cove

Oregon has 15 species of bats, up to 13 of those species are found in Central Oregon and 8 of those are Oregon Conservation Strategy Species. (These are animals that have small or declining populations, are at-risk, and/or of management concern.)

Bats are flying mammals that can reach speeds of 20 to 30 mph.  All bats in Oregon are insectivores.  Bats use echolocation which allows them to make high-pitched sounds then listen to the echo of those sounds to locate where objects are. Echolocation helps them find even the smallest insect. Bats are incredibly important as pollinators and provide humans with natural pest control.  One little brown bat can eat up to 1000 insects in an hour!

Recently The Cove purchased a new bat detector to be used on visitor hikes in the park.  It is called an Eco Meter Touch 2 by Wildlife Acoustics and it uses smartphone technology to display bats ultrasonic echolocation calls as they fly and identifies the bat species.

While we see bats and even here them occasionally, with this new technology Rangers can quickly identify the type of bats that are here in real time.  We can record their sounds and even email them to visitors on the hike.  Interpretive Ranger Erin Bennett used the detector for the first time on Thursday.   “It is so exciting to know exactly what kind of bats are flying around out there in the dark.  Now when a visitor asks, I can tell them definitively,” Bennett said.  She found five different species of bats flying just east of the Deschutes River –

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Little Brown Bat
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California Myotis
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Western Small-footed Myotis
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Canyon Bat
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Hoary Bat

Learn more about Oregon’s bats by joining Cove staff on night hikes at The Cove this summer or go online to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s websites Living with Wildlife, Bats page including a fun batty for bats flyer, plans for building bat houses and information on White Nose Syndrome.