1/14/12 – Report from Trip to: CarrollPassage

Permit #:  1201-1
Trip Leader name:  Bill Gee

Trip date:  14 January 2012
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Biology, data logger service
Areas of Cave visited:  CarrollPassage
Trip participants:  Bill Gee – Nathan Taylor – David Ashley – Shelly Field
Entry Time:  9:50 am
Exit Time:  4:30 pm
The trip report:  The original goal of this trip was to download and service all of the stream level data loggers.  Once per year in January I try to hit all of the loggers at once.  This makes it possible to create a one year graph for the previous year.  When Dr. Ashley indicated an interest in the trip, I quickly changed it to a biology project trip which would also hit the data loggers.

Everyone made this a day trip.  Nathan and I met at the farm store in Harrisonville a few minutes after 6:00 am.  From there it was an easy drive to the cave.  We arrived at the schoolhouse about 8:30 am to find no one else was there.  Since I needed to do some work on the rain gauge logger, we decided to go on up the hill and return by 9:00 am to meet Shelly and David.

David Ashley came up to the silo directly at about 8:50 am.  After a short discussion we decided he and Nathan would go back to the schoolhouse to wait for Shelly.  I was not done working on the rain gauge logger, so I stayed at the silo.

The rain gauge logger needs a new battery every year, and that requires hooking it to a computer to reinitialize it.  I had my laptop, but due to some issues with new software I was unable to reinitialize the logger.  The data download was successful, but the logger is currently not running.  I need to make a trip to get it launched after I resolve issues with the new computer software.

David, Nathan and Shelly came up the hill about 9:15 am.  Everyone geared up, which is much easier with a small team.  Nathan went down the hole first at about 9:50 am.  Shelly and David followed, with me coming last.  Everyone was in the cave by 10:10 am.

At all of our biology stops we took a set of readings on a Kestrel.  The Kestrel is a hand-held weather station that will record temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and many other data items.  We also had a laser thermometer which we used to measure the surface temperature of bats and also the temperature of the rock near them.  We used it on bats which were fairly close since the laser thermometer is not a precision instrument at distance.  “Close” means we could have easily touched them where they were hanging.

After dropping vertical gear, I downloaded the two data loggers at the ladder.  The stream was running at a rather low level.  We then visited the bait sticks at the ladder and at the Thunder Falls shortcut.  From there we went to the Rimstone Room just upstream from the Water Barrier.  I downloaded the data logger in the Carroll River, then David examined the bait sticks.

We then went through the Water Barrier to a biology site which is about 150 feet upstream from CR3 side passage.  This site has some nice black riffles and a set of five tiles.  We did a fairly thorough isopod count and examined all of the tiles in detail.

The next stop was guano pile 3.  This guano pile is in a bend in the stream.  Every time I have been there I have seen grotto salamanders.  We were not disappointed!  We count at least 11 salamanders in about a 10 foot length of stream.  They ranged from about 60 to over 90 millimeters in length.

The last stop for biology work was guano piles 14 and 15.  These are the most active guano piles in this part of the cave.  There are a large number of decomposed bat carcasses near guano pile 15.  David examined and counted the carcasses.  After some discussion we decided to not take a sample.  David will discuss the matter with Bill Elliott, and possibly on a future trip we will collect a few skulls for species identification.  David is reasonably sure they are all grey bats.

David took some samples of guano from the surface of pile 15 for lab analysis.  We also measured the temperature of the guano both at the surface and at depth using a probe thermometer.

We got to the Lunch Room shortly after 1:00 pm.  We had a sandwich lunch, then started back.  The trip back took longer than I expected because David developed some cramps in his legs.  By the time we got to the ladder it was obvious he was not going be able to do the upstream Thunder River part of the trip.  We had a short discussion and decided that David and Shelly would stay at the ladder while Nathan and I made a light-speed trip up to UL2 to download the last data logger.

Nathan and I left the ladder at 2:48 pm.  It took us 25 minutes to get to the data logger in UL2.  Two minutes to download the logger and we were headed back.  We arrived back at the ladder at about 3:40 for a total round trip time of about 50 minutes.  We were moving along very fast, and it helped that the stream level was running near minumum.  We saw two fish on the way but did not stop to collect any data.

When we returned, everyone geared up for the climb out.  We had some discussion on how to use the Kestrel to collect some data regarding air flow in the shaft.  The cave was breathing out strongly and we thought it would be interesting to get some data about this.  We decided that I would climb first and open the hatch door as soon as I got to the top.  Nathan, Shelly and David would then climb in a group, stopping about half-way up to get a Kestrel reading.

In spite of his leg cramps, David had no problems climbing out.  A set of Kestrel data was taken about half-way up the shaft.  We also got a set of reading right at the open hatch into the silo.

Everyone was out of the cave by 4:30pm.  We changed clothes and were heading down the hill at 5:00pm.  We all decided not to have dinner together.  Shelly had other plans, and both Nathan and I had meals in a cooler.  I dropped Nathan at his car in Harrisonville about 7:30 and was home by 8:20 pm.

Future trips – Some of the bait sticks have reached an advanced state of decomposition and should be replaced.  The ladder, Thunder Falls shortcut and Rimstone Room sticks all should be replaced.  In October when we do the bat census trip, I will collect guano from the top of the guages for lab analysis instead of just rinsing it off in the stream.  The quantity of guano can give us some idea of how many bats are using the area, and the analysis can reveal something about what they are eating.

Data collected:

This data is organized by collection site.  Kestrel readings are stored on the device with a time stamp.  To identify which readings go with which site, I recorded the time stamp. I did not record the actual readings since they are stored in memory on the device. Data from the stream level loggers will be reported separately.  We used Kestrel number 5.

Ladder bait station
Bait stick 1 is in “decomp 3″ state.
About 33 springtails, all were Sminthurid species.
1 troglobytic millipede 5mm long

Bait stick 2 is in “decomp 3″ state.
89 springtails, all were Sminthurid species.
1 millipede 7mm long

Two bats were observed within easy reach of the laswer thermometer.  The bat surface temperatures were both 14C.  The nearby rock was also 14C.

Kestrel time = 10:32 am.

Thunder River shortcut bait station
Both bait sticks are in “decomp 4″ state.
Springtails were noted all over the floor around the two bait sticks, all Sminthurid species.
Stick 3 had 48 springtails, all Sminthurid species.
Stick 4 had 17 Sminthruid springtails and 1 Podurid species.

I think we took a set of Kestrel readings here, but I did not note the time stamp.  It would be around 10:40.

While traveling we saw a grotto salamander on the trail about 200 feet upstream from the Bear Claw passage.  It measured 40mm on the body and 70mm overall length

Rimstone Room
Bait stick 8 is in “decomp 3″ state.
18 springtails, Podurid species
4 springtails, Sminthurid species

Bait stick 7 is in “decomp 4″ state.
21 springtails, all Podurid species.

Kestrel time = 11:16 am.

Bio site 2 (Carroll River, between Water Barrier and CR3 side passage)
Isopod count:
2mm = 1
3mm = 3
4mm = 2
5mm = 8
6mm = 3
7mm = 3
8mm = 4
10mm = 4
12mm = 1

Kestrel time = 11:54 am.

3 snails were noted on rocks.

Tile 26 = Smooth side up
11 snails 1mm on top
1 snail 2mm on bottom
No isopods

Tile 27 = rough side up
Nothing found

Tile 28 = Smooth side up
10 snails 1mm on top
1 snail 1mm on side
Nothing on the bottom

Tile 29 = Rough side up
Nothing found

Tile 30 = Smooth side up
The top has a fine layer of silt on it.
1 flatworm 3mm on bottom
1 snail 2mm on top
6 snails 1mm on top

Guano pile 3
A number of grotto salamanders were measured “in situ”.  We did not capture them for measurement – they were measured in the water or on the stream bank.
75 mm
65 mm
60 mm
80 mm
70 mm total, 36 mm on body
85 mm total, 52 mm on body
85 mm total, 40 mm on body
78 mm
93 mm
75 mm
70 mm total, 50 mm on body
68 mm mottled areas on body
86 mm

Kestrel time = 12:13 pm.

Near survey marker C55A2 – Two bats were checked for temperature.  Both bats and nearby rock were at 12C.

Guano pile 15
Three bats were checked for temperature.  All bats and nearby rock were 12C.

Kestrel time = 12:41 pm.

We counted 124 bat carcasses in a length of 14 paces (about 35 feet) by perhaps 2 or 3 feet wide.  The carcasses are all out from the guano pile about 4 to 6 feet.  Most are under an overhanging rock ledge.  Most of the carcasses are in an advanced state of decomposition with little more than bones and random organic material still present.  3 or 4 of the carcasses still show well-defined fur.

We took a number of close-up photos of the carcasses.

We found one bat hibernating in a horizontal hole in the rock.  It was hard to tell, but we think it was a Northern Long-Ear.

Laser probe temperature on the guano pile shows 11C at several locations.  The temperature probe showed 14.1C at the surface and 14.0C at full probe depth (about 9 inches).

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