10/25/2014 – Annual Bat Census

Trip Leader name:  Bill Gee

Trip date:  25 October 2014
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Annual Bat Census
Areas of Cave visited:  CarrollPassage
Trip participants:  Bill Gee – Ethan Haslag – Keith Markworth – Ben Porter
Entry Time:  9:45am
Exit Time:  6:30pm
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.  Everyone else arrived Saturday morning.

Jarrett Ellis was going to participate in the trip.  He arrived at the schoolhouse about 8:45 and parked on the road.  When we left to go to the silo, his truck would not start.  The starter had failed.  Jarrett had to back out of the trip so he could get his truck fixed.  Fortunately Sheri McKnight was there and able to give Jarrett a ride back to his house in Richland.  After we left the cave we saw that Jarrett’s truck was gone.  I heard from him later in an email saying that a replacement starter did the trick.

With only four people it did not take long to get down the shaft.  We were all in the cave shortly after 10:00 am.

We paused for a few minutes at the Rimstone Room so I could download the data logger in the Carroll River. The data logger failed to download and will require further checking on the next trip.  The barometric pressure data logger also failed to download.  I did get data from the logger in Thunder River just below the ladder.

After going 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.  We found fewer isopods than last year.  The tiles had no snails on them.

From there we went on to the guano piles.  Last year the gauge from pile number 3 has been washed downstream.  We recovered and reset the gauge.  This year it was where it should be.  Guano gauge number 13 was tipped over.  The remaining gauges had about the same level of use as in previous years.

We took a candy bar break at the Lunch Room about 12:30 pm, then started the bat count.  This year we found almost no bats except for two clusters.  We saw two surface fish.  One was a sculpin and the other probably a perch.  It got into a silt cloud before we could get a good look at it.  We also saw a dead sculpin on the return trip.

We reached the Mountain Room shortly before 3:00 pm.  Everyone had a good meal.  Before leaving the Mountain Room we checked out the cracks for a lead up to the upper level passage.  Ethan climbed way up into one crack and reported that he could see out into the upper level passage.  It was rather dodgy without a safety line, so he did not continue on.

We left the Mountain Room about 4:15 pm for the return trip.  The return route goes through the Turnpike.  It is fairly muddy but still easier and shorter than taking the main cave passage.  We entered the turnpike at 4:35 and came out the other end at 5:15.

We arrived back at the ladder shortly after 6:00 pm.  Everyone was out of the cave by 6:30 pm.

Summary of data collected —

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

4mm = 1
5mm = 2
6mm = 0
7mm = 2
8mm = 0
9mm = 0
10mm = 1
11mm = 0
12mm = 0
13mm = 0
14mm = 1
15mm = 1

At gauges 1, 2 and 3: Five salamanders, three at 70mm and two at 60mm. 3 fish at 30mm, 30mm and 40mm.  Also several small webworms and gnats on the usual rock outcrop.

Guano gauge 1 = Thin layer, 30% coverage
Guano gauge 2 = Thin layer, 30% coverage
Guano gauge 3 = Washed away
Guano gauge 4a = One turd
Guano gauge 4b = 40% coverage

Guano gauge 5 = One turd
Guano gauge 6 = Completely covered, 3 to 4mm, fresh fungus
Guano gauge 7 = Completely clean
Guano gauge 8 = Completely clean
One pip hanging on the ceiling

Guano gauge 11 = One turd
Guano gauge 12a = 60% covered, depth 2mm
Guano gauge 12b = 50% covered, depth 2mm

Guano gauge 13 = tipped over, 20% covereage, depth 1mm
Guano gauge 14a = Completely clean
Guano gauge 14b = One turd
Guano gauge 15a = 100% covered, 5mm, fresh fungus
Guano gauge 15b = 60% covered, 3mm

The bat carcasses around guano gauge 15 are still there.  No new carcasses were noted.  The existing carcasses are decomposing and are basically just furballs now.

Guano gauge 16 = Completely clean

Guano gauge 30 = clean
Guano gauge 31 = clean
Guano gauge 32 = 10% coverage
Guano gauge 33 = 10% coverge

There are some guano gauges in the Turnpike.  All of them are completely clean.

Bat count data:

Lunch room to 6000 feet = 2 bats.
6000 to 5000 foot = 1 bat
5000 to 4500 foot = 1 bat
4500 to 4000 foot = 8 bats
4000 to 3500 foot = 8 bats.  3 of them were greys in a small hole in the ceiling.  1 salamander 90mm on a guano pile, also many small beetles on the guano pile
3500 to 3000 foot = 3 bats, surface fish possibly a perch, about 5 inches long.  1 isopod about 14mm.
3000 to 2500 foot = 0 bats, sculpin in the stream, about 5 inches, in a black rock riffle area
2500 to 2000 foot = 9 bats
2000 to 1500 foot = 4 bats plus cluster of about 60 on about 3 square feet of ceiling.  Stream bed densly covered in guano.
1500 to 1000 foot = 2 bats, 1 salamander not measured
1000 to 500 foot = 3 bats plus a cluster of bats – 400 to 500 individuals, covered a couple of square feet over a total area about 30 feet long and 5 feet wide
500 foot to Mountain Room = 0 bats

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