10/29/11 – Annual bat count Carroll river trip

Permit #:  1110-3
Trip Leader name:  Bill Gee

Trip date:  10/29/2011
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Annual bat census in Carroll Passage
Areas of Cave visited:  CarrollPassage
Trip participants:  Bill Gee, Jamie Euliss, Charlie Rey, Janet Witteried, Pete Witteried
Entry Time:  10:20am
Exit Time:  7:30pm
The trip report:  This trip is the annual bat census and biology survey that we do every year around the end of October.  I drove down Friday after work and camped at the schoolhouse.  Pete and Janet arrived about 815 Saturday morning.  Charlie and Jamie were a bit late, arriving about an hour later.  We talked for a few minutes, then headed up the hill.

Everyone geared up, with the first person dropping into the cave about 10:20.  We were all in by 10:35.

I took the opportunity to download the rain gauge data logger while we were gearing up.  In the cave I also downloaded the barometric reference and Thunder River data logger.  When we passed the data logger in Carroll River, I got that one too.

We went through the Water Barrier and arrived at the first bio site around 11:15.  This is a riffle in the stream a few hundred feet downstream from the Water Barrier.  It is prime isopod habitat.  We placed a set of tiles here on the bat census trip in Octobeer 2010.  We spent about 15 or 20 minutes counting isopods and checking the tiles for snails.  I did not have any rulers, so the measurements we got on the isopods are not very good.  No one was comfortable doing eyeball esitmates in millimeters.

From there we went on to the guano piles.  All the usual guano piles showed activity, the same as in previous years.  We saw four cave salamanders in the stream right around guano pile 3.  A nearby rock had some spider webs on it.

We stopped for at candy bar break at the Lunch Room.  From there the bat count commenced.  We arrived at the Mountain Room around 3:45pm.  Everyone fixed a hot meal, then I photographed the last three guano piles.  We were on the way back by about 5:00pm.

The only cluster of bats we saw was right at the 500 foot marker.  There were several hundred bats spread out on the ceiling in an area perhaps 15 or 20 feet long and 2 or 3 feet wide.  This area was not completely covered with bats.  Othewise we saw only single bats widely separated.  The bats we could get close to seemed to be all eastern pipistrelles.

We saw three banded sculpins in the stream.  One was around the 1000 foot marker and the other two were at the Mountain Room.  All three were emaciated.

To save time and avoid the mud, we took the Turnpike on the return trip.  It took us about 40 minutes to go through, which saved nearly an hour of time and the effort of slogging through some serious mud.

Charlie Rey had some problems with cramps in his hamstring as we got close to the ladder.  We paused a couple of times so he could hydrate and get a short rest break.  We arrived back at the ladder around 7:00.  Everyone geared up fast, and we were all out of the cave by 7:30.  Bill Pfantz was in the silo where he helped with derigging.

Charlie and Jamie went on home.  Pete, Janet and I camped at the schoolhouse.  My early-bird habits kicked in Sunday morning.  I was packed up and on the road before 7am.

Summary of data collected —

Tile 26 – Blank
Tile 27 – 16 isopods
Tile 28 – Blank
Tile 29 – Blank
Tile 30 – Blank

Isopod count and sizes:

7mm = 4
10mm = 21
12mm = 1
14mm = 1
20mm = 2

We saw a juvenile and an adult grotto salamander near the bio riffle site.

Near guano pile 3 we saw four adult grotto salamanders.  They were 60-100mm long.  We also saw two spiders with their webs near guano pile 1.  Within 20 feet or so downstream from guano gauge 3 we saw three cave fish.

Guano gauge 1 = Completely clean
Guano Gauge 2 = Thin layer, about 40% coverage
Guano gauge 3 = Completely covered, about 6 or 7mm thick
Guano gauge 4a = Completely clean
Guano gauge 4b = Completely clean

Guano gauge 5 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 6 = Completely covered, 7 to 8mm thick
Guano gauge 7 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 8 = 3 turds
Guano gauge 11 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 12a = completely covered, 3-5mm thick
Guano gauge 12b = 90% covered, depth 2mm

Guano gauge 13 = 5 turds
Guano gauge 14a = 20% covered
Guano gauge 14b = 4 turds
Guano gauge 15a = completely covered 4 mm
Guano gauge 15b = completely covered 6mm

Bat carcasses near guano pile 15 – No noticible change in the last year.  From several feet away they look like mud of a different color.

Guano gauge 16 = Completely clean

Guano gauge 30 = clean
Guano gauge 31 = 3 turds and some dust
Guano gauge 32 = 15% coverage
Guano gauge 32a = 10% coverage

There are some guano gauges in the Turnpike.  I noted that all of them are completely clean.  We have not visited them for several years, so they have never been cleaned off.

Bat count data:

Lunch room to 6000 feet = 10 bats
6000 to 5000 foot = 55 bats, 1 cave fish, 1 bat had mangy hair on its back.
5000 to 4500 foot = 48 bats
4500 to 4000 foot = 10 bats
4000 to 3500 foot = 24 bats, 1 salamander
3500 to 3000 foot = 14 bats
3000 to 2500 foot = 15 bats
2500 to 2000 foot = 19 bats
2000 to 1500 foot = 17 bats, 2 salamanders
1500 to 1000 foot = 25 bats
1000 to 500 foot = 28 bats plus a cluster of bats – 200 to 300 individuals, covered a couple of square feet over a total area about 20 feet long and 5 feet wide.
500 foot to Mountain Room = 31 bats

Comments are closed.