Field work is a fickle friend. Sometimes you hit the jackpot (lots of bats, you hear the telemetry signals from every animal, you find the tracks you need, the weather is perfect etc) and sometimes you are just cold and wet with no data to show for it.
After a great night a few days ago, I was feeling optimistic about our capture chances last night. It had rained a little bit on Monday, so we hoped the bats would be out the next night, making up for lost foraging time. Instead, it was windy and chilly and not a single bat in sight. I am tempted to blame it on the fact I wasn’t wearing my lucky bat shirt (we field scientists entertain silly superstitions as much as the next person). Whatever the reasons, we didn’t catch any bats last night.
The point here is, there are no guarantees in field work. Nights with no data can be frustrating, but we have to work to keep things in perspective. To me at least, a few hours sitting next a creek with wet feet is still better than hours and hours in a warm office cubicle. It is the little things.
And while we didn’t see bats last night, we still caught a glimpse of some other local wildlife. Even our nets didn’t go unused, when a confused little dipper found its way into our nets just as sunset. American dippers are common around the redwood streams. They are unique little birds that spend their time dipping in the water and are the only truly aquatic songbirds in North America. They have a distinctive white third eyelid that allows them to dive in search of prey.
Some other visitors included a large millipede, a raccoon moving along the water’s edge and a brave little mouse that was intent on stealing our tortilla chips.
Also check out the short video I took of our brave little mouse-friend: LINK