Jester Bat Count 2014

 

Wow... this was one delayed bat count... one part of the team couldn't make it on the middle of the month (Usual time - as it is the average typical coldest weekend of the winter and the bats are heavy in sleep (Hibernation)). Then the next week another member couldn't make it (Me!) and we just HAD to make this one work before they came OUT of hibernation!!
This was a different bat count - this time we're doing swabs of their forearms and their snout and submitting the swabs to have analyses to see if White Nose Syndrome is present or not... and if not, then we have a baseline for comparison.

Date: Saturday - March 1, 2014
Location: Jester Cave Complex
Bat Count Crew: Duane Del Vecchio, Carol Town, Dale Town - all members of Central Oklahoma Grotto (COG)

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What was supposed to be a 65 degree day turned out to be a 40 degree and mist and 20 mph North wind day... This is the smallest group that we've ever had in the past decade to do a SW OK bat count... THREE! To show you how severe the drought is here, I have never in the past 20 years of doing bat count have seen this pool dry! WOW!!!
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Quite worried right off the bat... no bats in the first 100 feet of the entrance... not usual... but then we started finding small mats... figured the clustering was 224 bats per sq. ft. (16x14) Saw unique mats for Jester... don't know what is up? Very cold winter this year so that might be it.
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And man were they packed in the cracks in the ceiling this year! But we're glad to report they looked healthy and no sign of any of White Nose Syndrome signs. You'll see lots of pictures of the same batch of bats from various angles for the scientists who view these pictures for signs of WNS.
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This year we did something unique.. we took swabs of their forearms and snout for signs of WNS .. this group was our first... We were sent sample vials with specific directions on how to swab the bats (in as much as a non-intrusive method as possible). We were to dip the giant Q-tip into a vial which contained de-ionized water (pure water)...
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and then roll the swab 3 times over the forearm and then 3 times under the forearm and one pass over the snout... And then put the swab (with any microbes it picked up) into the pure vial and break it off and seal it. Each vial was numbered and stamped (OK for Oklahoma) and then numbered for logging...
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Since Dale does this kind of stuff as a profession with the Air Force... who else should do the paperwork?? <grin> We then went to another entrance called Train Tunnel (Same cave) (36 entrances!) And of all of Train Tunnel.. we only had two bats... but they were Long Ears! Worth the extra effort to get them!!
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Since I'm never in a picture on our bat counts... here I be! :) What a selfie! Scary! If the long ear bat would have woken up it could have died from fright! <grin> Lots of views of our long ears since we don't get to see them too often!
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While they sleep, they curl their ears up. If we had ears like them, we could barely scratch the top of our ears with our hands! New camera... learning how to make the stupid flash work (or not). Cool!
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Sorry... repetitious.. but we don't see a lot of these guys! Dale was waiting for me... I took too long to take pictures for just two dang bats!! Then on to the start of the cave about 3/4 of a mile away...Homestead entrance...
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the only reason we go here ... it's full of breakdown and unstable rock... is there is always a couple of long ears in this section... never any other type of bats... just long ears... Don't know why... this year there were these 2 and one in another area here.
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Then to Glade Entrance where we get our GIANT mats and large counts!!! What in the world is going on??? This was the ONLY mat here!!! Our packing rate was 225 per sq. ft. here. (15x15 here compared to 16x14 at the resurgence).
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We got this mat as 2,025.. (not good as we usually get near 9,000+ from this area!) Not sure what is going on... it was the ONLY large mat we found (instead of of 4 or 5 of this type of cluster) Stats from this section: Air Temp: 42.1 Humidity: 66%, Rock Temp: 43.7 Dirt Temp: 39.5 (no water temp: no water in cave)(all temps in F)
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I have never found a big ear in this section of Jester.. so this was special!! It was the only one... this is a myotis velifer (cave myotis)(common cave bat) hibernation area. Typically the water stabilizes the air above to provide optimal hibernation situation for the bats... but not so this year.
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But all of the bats this year looked healthy and had no signs of stress. But if you look at all of these pictures, there is an above normal level of parasites (ear bugs) that are on the bats. The rest of the cave had smaller clusters (mats) but none of large size like we are used to seeing.
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But also we saw a large number of cave crickets this year.. much more than normal (look about 7 o'clock) D took numbers in the south section, Dale took numbers in north section, and Carol counted both sections. The payoff for doing Jester Bat Count... the calazone from Lugi's at Blair... it is the main entree of heaven!! <grin> Thanks Dale and Carol!! Great bat count!
 

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Last updated: 3/1/14