|June 20, 2000
|During the day I visited a building in nearby Gauley Bridge which supposedly had a bunch of bats. Bunch, for sure....immediately walking into the building, concentrations of bats are marked by rotting wood in the ceiling, urine stains down walls, and guano piles along edges of walls. Bats could be heard, oh yes, and even seen in daylight through parts of missing ceiling.
The ladder available to gain access through a trapdoor in the ceiling was actually too long for the purpose, but I was able to peer into the attic space a bit through the breaks in the ceiling. Though is was only 12:30 and the outside temperature was only 81° bats were readily visable at the very bottom of the ceiling.
Poking around another larger room I crawled up a stack of haybales, over some newborn bats which didn't make it, in hopes of getting my hands on a few. Here a larger chunk of missing ceiling has been repaired by stapling cardboard over the rotted out wood, apparently in hoped of somhow containing the guano upstairs. Prying some of the cardboard away revealed three bats right at my fingertips...and the one in the middle was sporting a shiny new metal band. Banded on the left, this would signify a female, to no big surprise. As you recall, just a few days ago we banded about 120 little browns at Site #2 at Gauley Bridge. Coincidence? I think not.
Left: Entrance to structure. The concentrated guano field near the bucket signifies the bats preferred roost areas. Delapidated ceiling and staining suggest many years of bat use.
|Left: The adjoining haybale room shows sign of the motherlode of bat spots. Staining, staining, guano, bat bugs, bats, bayby bats, collapsing ceiling, you name it, it's all right here. The ripped cardboard is where the banded female was found.
Below: Definately not the Hilton, but follow the ripped cardboard to the roosting little brown. The band is visable in this shot.
|Impressed, I leaped off the haybales and fired up the digital camera. When I returned, the only bat which remained was the banded one (that'll never happen again) which hung around long enough to get some kind of usable shots before slithering into the ceiling. Balanced on wobbly haybales, prying apart urine soaked cardboard with a $500 digi-cam, hey... anything for wildlife!|
|While all this is fun(?) consider that while there are hundreds of bats obviously in this structure, it is far from being ideal. This day was certainly not the hottest of the summer, yet the bats were already forced so low in the hot attic that some could be seen in broad daylight. Down low, I mean into the guano piles and into the parasites low. Some other buildings in Gauley Bridge have already been successfully bat-proofed, suggesting these bats might be somewhat desperate to stick to this particular overloaded structure.
It is ironic to me how I see a lot of money, sometimes tremendous amounts of money, occasionally being spent on summer mist net surveys in somewhat marginal habitat (i.e. narrow road improvement/pipeline corridors), when we already know where there are literally tens of thousands of bats just hanging out in constant jeopardy due to bat-human conflicts. True, I will probably never find a bunch of red bats in someone's attic, but then I haven't found a cluster of 15,000 little browns and 25 or so Indianas in a single old tree, either.
Stepping off the soapbox, I'll now mention Pam and I returned to Upper Wheeler Island for our second night of misery at that site. We set one net at the island head, one in the shallow overhanging trees, and this time put a double high in a flyway on the north side of the island, since we actually observed a bat there last night. A light rain settled in at dusk and lasted for an hour, after which there was still no activity. We're all beginning to really dislike these islands, even my dog isn't excited about it anymore, opting to sleep during the long boat rides and generally dozing off given any chance.
Chris and Neil ventured out further downstream to Cedar Grove where they set up over a infeeder and caught zip. Saw one large bat (probably a Hoary) flying early, and saw not a bit of activity after that.
Tom and Dave picked up the last night at Site 6 and again netted a dozen or so big browns and one pregnant pipestrelle, for something different. The addition of the pip makes for four species checking in so far on the Kanawha.
|Left: Pregnant pipestrelle at Site 6.
Below: Another big brown at site 6.
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