Friday, July 07, 2006

Baloo Goes to the Field

I had the opportunity to take Baloo out to the field with me last week. I decided to go for it, even though there were a few extra arrangements to make. We were both excited, I wanted to see how she'd do, and she's always excited to do something new. Instead of taking my "batmobile" which is a Dodge Ram with a picture of a bat on the tailgate (I'm a wildlife biologist who specializes in bats and work for the Arizona Game and Fish Department), I made arrangements to take a Suburban so Baloo's crate could fit inside. She was quite a hit at my office as I loaded up the truck and made my final arrangements. Then we were off, heading northwest toward Seligman for our big adventure. Baloo slept soundly in her crate the whole way. Once we arrived we checked into the Stagecoach Inn and headed out to the designated meeting place. There were several other biologists there, and once we got introductions and chatting out of the way we were off to our netting locations. There were two large cattle tanks that we set our nets up at. Baloo had a blast racing around the big earthen tanks, ears streaming behind. I love that look she gets in her eyes when she's racing along like that. I expect she'll do it more and more as she gets older and begins to really run. She bounced and bounded along, hopping happily in the mud. At one point, full of glee she bounded right into the water. But the expression on her face changed instantly from glee to terror as she realized the water was a little deep and that was the first time she'd tried out her doggy paddle. With a lot of encouragement from everyone around, she paddled back to the shore. It got dark and the bats began to fly into our nets. We caught several pregnant pallid bats and quite a few Myotis bats. Baloo retired to her crate and wasn't too interested as we removed bats from nets and took their weights and measurements. We netted all night long, finishing around 6 am. Usually, bat netting is done in the first 4 or 5 hours of the night. But we wanted to see what the bat activity level was all through the night, as we were collecting information to help us make recommendations for a proposed Wind Farm that may be constructed in the area. Wind Farms provide environmentally friendly power, but there have been problems with birds and bats getting killed from flying into the blades.

After taking down our nets and chatting for a bit about the evening, we went back to Seligman and Baloo and I went to our motel to sleep for a few hours before returning to Phoenix. Again, she was on her best behavior and slept in her crate the whole way back. I think Baloo is going to be a good field dog, and will definitely be invited to go out with me again.

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