Monday, May 12, 2008

Have a plan in case of goats

Today was my first full day in the field for my project. I've got three sets of equipment, complete with camo-painted waterproof casings and human-proof cages pictured above hanging from a tree. I made up a random schedule of my 19 parks, and this afternoon set off around 6:30pm. My first two stops, at the Interior Green Belt and Golden Gate Heights, went fairly uneventfully. I was able to lug the cages to the previously selected random location and secure them to a tree. I also set out traps for flying insects, which I'll also tell you more about later. I'll be curious to see if I get any Light Brown Apple Moths which are causing quite a controversy here in the bay area. When I got to my last location, Glen Canyon, I got my surprise. Goats! I knew they periodically deploy a herd of goats in the park to keep the plants grazed and reduce fire danger. My first clue was a sign pasted over the park entrance warning neighbors to keep their dogs on leash. Then I saw goat droppings on the ground. Then I saw electric fencing up and goats happily munching plants exactly around my carefully selected random location. OK: I'm not going to record bats here tonight! Even if the goats hadn't been in the exact spot I needed I probably wouldn't have left my equipment there. Too much of a chance that they'd disrupt bat activity (or otherwise make it not average for the park.) Also, I would worry that the electric fence might generate ultrasonic interference. So, I'll have to wait a few days and try that park later. With some quick thinking I decided to try for another park nearby, at Twin Peaks. This spot was easy to get to in the dwindling light. As I was setting up the equipment, a local resident got curious and came to see what I was doing. Hopefully I rattled off enough bat trivia to convince him I was not a terrorist or a spy. I really do need to come up with some kind of label on my equipment in case someone actually does notice it. So tomorrow I'm up early and will go collect the detectors and the insect traps and see what I got. Woo-hoo! Science in progress!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennifer - I just finished the bat class at SNFC with Joe Szewczak. Have you detected any other bat species other than Mex. freetails? --Jenny

11:31 PM  
Blogger batgrrl said...

Jenny --
Cool, that class changed my life, I hope you enjoyed it. I'm about to go to a BCI acoustic monitoring class where I will get expert help analyzing my calls but yes, I'm pretty sure I've got more than just freetails. There are likely Yuma myotis, and some hoary and red bat calls too. I'll post the results later this summer.

12:16 PM  

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