10/26/13 – Carroll Passage, Annual Bat Census

Trip date:  26 October 2013
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Bat census
Areas of Cave visited:  CarrollPassage
Trip participants:  Jarrett Ellis, Jeff Page, Krista Bartel
Entry Time:  9:40 am
Exit Time:  6:40 pm
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.  Everyone else arrived Saturday morning.

With only four people it did not take us long to get geared up and down the shaft.  I went first so I could download the data loggers while everyone else was rapelling.  By 10:00 everyone was in the cave.

As we traveled through the cave we saw a lot of evidence that the water had recently been much higher than usual.  Areas that usually are dry had puddles of water in them, and everywhere we looked there was fresh sand on top of the mud.  There was a major rain event in early August which washed out some roads in the area.  When I got home, I did a quick plot of the data from the loggers.  The data shows a 20 foot spike in the stream level in Thunder River and a 4 foot spike in Carroll River.

We paused for a few minutes at the Rimstone Room so I could download the data logger in the Carroll River, then went on through the Water Barrier.  The first stop was at the bio site a couple of hundred feet downstream from the Water Barrier.  We did a count of isopods and checked all the tiles for snails.

From there we went on to the guano piles.  The first surprise was at guano pile 3.  This pile is in a sharp bend in the stream.  The guano gauge on it was completely gone.  The guano pile had fresh sand all over it.  Obviously the stream had come up at least several feet and carried away the gauge.  We saw several salamanders on guano pile 2 and more in the stream.

About 200 feet downstream from guano pile 8 we found the gauge from pile 3.  It was in the stream about 2 feet deep.  Jarrett’s sharp eye saw it even though it was 50 feet off the main trail.  I recovered the gauge and set it on some rocks.  On the return trip we took it back to guano pile 3.  When we set it up, we piled some rocks around it.  Maybe that will help keep it in place.

We took a candy bar break at the Lunch Room right at noon, then started the bat count.  There were two clusters of bats.  One small cluster of perhaps a hundred individuals was just downstream from the 4000 foot marker.  The second cluster was several hundred individuals spread out over about 8 feet by 15 feet on the ceiling right at the 500 foot marker.

We reached the Mountain Room shortly before 3:00 pm.  Everyone had a good meal.  Kerry Rowland had originally planned to be on the trip, but backed out.  He gave Krista a description of the path leading to a high passage that goes over the Mountain Room.  We spent about 45 minutes checking some things out, but never did find it.  Krista and I both climbed up into some cracks which turned out to be dead ends.

We left the Mountain Room about 4:00 pm for the return trip.  The return route goes through the Turnpike.  This year everyone was in better condition, so the trip through the Turnpike did not take as long.  It is fairly muddy but still easier and shorter than taking the main cave passage.

We arrived back at the ladder shortly after 6:00 pm.  Everyone was out of the cave by 6:40 pm.

Summary of data collected —

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

Isopod count and sizes:

2mm = 2
4mm = 3
5mm = 2
6mm = 1
7mm = 2
8mm = 2
9mm = 1
10mm = 4
11mm = 2
12mm = 1

At gauges 1, 2 and 3.  Salamanders on guano pile 2.  70mm and 90mm.  Salamander on guano pile 3.  100mm.  Adult salamander found in the stream, bloated abdomen, 100mm.  Fish in the stream, 40mm.

Guano gauge 1 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 2 = Thin layer, 30% covered
Guano gauge 3 = Washed away
Guano gauge 4a = Completely clean
Guano gauge 4b = Completely clean

Guano gauge 5 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 6 = 60-70% covered and tipped over on its side.
Guano gauge 7 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 8 = Completely clean
One fish found in the stream near guano gauge 8.  Three bats.

Guano gauge 11 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 12a = 90% covered, 3mm depth
Guano gauge 12b = 90% covered, depth 3mm
Two salamander about 100mm, one dead bat hanging from the ceiling

Guano gauge 13 = one or two turds
Guano gauge 14a = completely covered, 10mm
Guano gauge 14b = 90% covered, 5mm
Guano gauge 15a = 80% covered, 5mm
Guano gauge 15b = 90% covered, 5mm
At second muddy crossing fish in the stream, 60mm.  Bat flying at guano pile 15.  One tricolor hanging on the wall.

Guano gauge 16 = Completely clean

Guano gauge 30 = clean
Guano gauge 31 = clean
Guano gauge 32 = clean
Guano gauge 32a = clean

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 = 4 bats.  Puddle off to side of the stream with many isopods.  One was at least 15mm.
6000 to 5000 foot = 24 bats, 1 salamander
5000 to 4500 foot = 14 bats, 1 salamander, one boot
4500 to 4000 foot = 8 bats
4000 to 3500 foot = 18 bats, 1 larvae salamander, two small clusters.  One of 13, the other 70 to 100, just downstream from 4000 foot marker.
3500 to 3000 foot = 8 bats, 1 larvae salamander
3000 to 2500 foot = 13 bats
2500 to 2000 foot = 4 bats, 1 salamander
2000 to 1500 foot = 12 bats
1500 to 1000 foot = 12 bats, 3 salamanders
1000 to 500 foot = 8 bats plus a cluster of bats – 300 to 400 individuals, covered a couple of square feet over a total area about 12 feet long and 5 feet wide
500 foot to Mountain Room = 0 bats

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