11/29/2016 – Annual bat census

Trip date:  29 Oct 2016
Project manager:  Bill Gee
Trip purpose:  Annual bat census
Areas of Cave visited:  CarrollPassage
Trip participants:  Bill Gee, Cliff Gill, Tom Clark, Ben Perkins
Entry Time:  9:45 am
Exit Time:  5:45 pm
The trip report:  I drove down Friday afternoon and camped at the schoolhouse.  Tom Clark also camped, arriving a few minutes after I went to bed.  Saturday we went up to the silo about 8:30 to get things ready.  Ben arrived a few minutes later.

The three of us were not sure whether Cliff was coming.  Just as we were ready to start dropping into the cave I checked my cell phone and found a message from Cliff.  It turns out he was just a few minutes away.  We waited until he arrived.

One of the goals for the trip was to download some of the data loggers.  I had tried to download the rain gauge logger in August but was not successful.  At that time I thought it was a problem with a plastic light shield inside the data shuttle.  I corrected the problem after that trip.  Unfortunately the rain gauge logger still would not download.  Now I suspect it has a bad battery.  If true that means we have no rain gauge data for 2016.

I was first down the shaft at 9:45 am.  We were all in the cave by 10:00 am.  I downloaded the two data loggers at the ladder while the others were rappeling in.  At the logger in the stream I saw a larvae salamander perhaps 30mm long.

The first stop was the isopod count at the riffle just downstream from the Water Barrier.  We reached the riffle about 10:30 am.  We checked all the tiles and did our usual isopod count.  The numbers seem way down from previous years.  The data is below.

From there we proceeded to the guano piles.  At each guano pile we photographed the gauge and then cleaned it for the next year.  At guano pile 2 we found a grotto salamander about 10cm long.

We reached the Lunch Room a few minutes before noon.  After a candy bar snack break we started the actual bat census.  We saw very few bats, far fewer than in previous years.  There were two clusters as described below in the data section.

Possibly because of the dearth of bats we moved very quickly, reaching the Mountain Room shortly before 3:00 pm.  A hot meal was the first order of business, after which I went around to the guano gauges and recorded their state.

There was some discussion of taking a swim out the water passage to see if any large clusters of bats were there.  In the end no one was eager to get that cold, so we headed straight back to the ladder.

We left the Mountain Room shortly before 4:00 pm.  Taking the Turnpike, we arrived back at the ladder around 5:30.  It was a very quick trip!  Everyone geared up and was out of the cave by 5:45 pm.

Summary of data collected —

Tile 26 – Blank
Tile 27 – 1 isopod
Tile 28 – Blank
Tile 29 – Blank
Tile 30 – Blank

Isopod count – Most of the isopods were in the upstream half of the data area.  We also saw one salamander 30mm long.

2mm = 1
3mm = 4
4mm = 1
5mm = 2
6mm = 1
7mm = 0
8mm = 0
9mm = 0
10mm = 0
11mm = 0
12mm = 0
13mm = 0
14mm = 0
15mm = 0

At gauges 1, 2 and 3:

Guano gauge 1 = 6 turds
Guano gauge 2 = 40% coverage, 2mm depth
Guano gauge 3 = Nothing

Salamander = 100mm, 60mm
Cave fish = 30mm

Guano gauge 4a = 30% coverage, 2mm depth
Guano gauge 4b = 1 small turd
Guano gauge 5 = Nothing
Guano gauge 6 = 100% coverage, 5mm depth
Guano gauge 7 = 1 turd
Guano gauge 8 = 2 turds

Guano gauge 11 = Nothing
Guano gauge 12a = 100% coverage, 4mm depth
Guano gauge 12b = 95% coverage, 3mm depth

Guano gauge 13 = 100% coverage, 7mm depth
Guano gauge 14a = 10% coverage
Guano gauge 14b = 5% coverage, 8 turds
Guano gauge 15a = 100% coverage, 14mm depth
Guano gauge 15b = 60% coverage, 2mm depth

Guano gauge 30 = Nothing
Guano gauge 31 = 1 turd
Guano gauge 32 = 20% coverage, mostly small turds
Guano gauge 33 = 15% coverage, light dusting

All guano gauges in the Turnpike are completely clean.

Several new bat carcasses were seen around guano piles 14 and 15.  The old carcasses are just brown spots now.

Bat count data:

Lunch room to 6000 feet = No bats, no fish, no salamanders
6000 to 5000 foot = 1 bat, no fish, no salamanders
5000 to 4500 foot = No bats, no fish, no salamanders
4500 to 4000 foot = No bats, no fish, no salamanders
4000 to 3500 foot = 1 bat, no fish, no salamanders
3500 to 3000 foot = 2 bats, no fish, no salamanders
3000 to 2500 foot = No bats, 1 salamander 60mm, surface accidental (blue gill), emaciated.  About 13cm long.  Lots of isopods on the black rock right at the Turnpike ladder.  Striations in the mud that look like animal scratches.  One bat carcass with lots of fungus.
2500 to 2000 foot = 2 bats, 1 fish about 60mm, no salamanders
2000 to 1500 foot = 3 single bats, a cluster of perhaps 100 individuals in an area about 2 feet by 5 feet.  This was perhaps 150 feet downstream from the 2000 foot marker.
1500 to 1000 foot = 2 bats, no fish, no salamanders, one frog (probably a leopard frog)
1000 to 500 foot = 6 individual bats, large cluster of bats, 40 feet by 7 or 8 feet wide.  Estimate 500 individuals.  Several dozen bat carcasses in the stream.  Very fresh, probably only a week or two old.  Isopods all over the carcasses.
500 foot to Mountain Room = No bats, 1 banded sculpin about 17cm, 1 frog in the stream

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