Wild and Scenic Riverways

I’ll admit, I’ve been slacking here lately. I finally started collecting data (yay!), so organizing logistics and dealing with data have kept me quite busy. When I’m not doing those things, I’m either running or catching up on sleep. One of the joys of working with nocturnal animals; you eventually become one. Now all I need to do to complete my transformation to “Batgirl” is start sleeping upside down.

I will post an update on the current field work tomorrow, but for now, I will entertain you with beautiful pictures of forest and rivers.

As I was working through my proposal, I made a few trips to the Smith River National Recreation Area and part of the Six River National Forest, southeast of Crescent City, CA. Several years ago, the Forest Service had replaced an old building with several bat boxes, which were now fully occupied with my target species (Yuma myotis).

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The road to Smith River NRA, passing through Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.

Late April, I dragged my fiance up to the area to check out the bat boxes and do some hiking. We chose the South Kelsey National Recreation Trail, not too far from the campsite where the bats were hanging out (pun intended). We took an afternoon for a 3 hour hike down the trail, which followed along a fork of the Smith River and making it to the Siskiyou National Wilderness border.

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The wild and scenic Smith River.

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Brad posing for the camera.

We turned around here, because I was anxious to get back to the bat site in time for sunset. It was my first time really experimenting with equipment (and several experimentations later, I would continue to do it wrong). The campsite has 3 boxes, all next to each other. The bats most likely move between boxes, seeking the thermal environment that best suits their needs at a given moment. They were noisy. Even before I shone a flashlight up into the roost to check out occupancy, I could hear them chattering away. Social calls!

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What an occupied bat house looks like. Who can resist those faces?!

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The three bat boxes at the Big Flat Campground, Smith River NRA

My best estimates of numbers is between 250 and 400 bats. They are surprisingly hard to count, especially after the first few minutes after sunset when they begin to return to the roost. And it gets too dark to see very well.

Following my trip with Brad, I made a few more solo trips to the area, trying to collect recordings of social calls. After a third (and rainy) failed attempt, it was decided that I would no longer be using calls recorded from the area. While disappointing in some ways, it was also a relief to stop making the long trip north and allows me more time and energy to focus on my main field site in Benbow.

Stay batty,

Alyson

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