Saturday, July 13, 2013

More Bats!

A lot more bats.

The scene as we drove up to the cave. The bats had decided to head out early. We were supposed to arrive before they started out.

They were streaming out of the cave.

They kept coming. And coming.

We hopped out of the car and headed up the hill.

They flew right over our heads. Wings slapping against each other.

It was loud.

For close to an hour the bats kept streaming out the the cave (and recall we had arrived well after they had started).

Here is the cave during a lull in the action.

It is the Frio Bat Cave.

Where the Congress Street Bridge is home to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats, this cave is home to almost ten times as many, 10 to 12 million bats.

That's a lot of bats. The Frio Bat Cave is the second largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats (the largest is Braken Cave).

The bats, almost all female, come north in the spring to give birth to a single pup. They fly out every night to hunt insects. It is estimated the bats save farmers in Texas close to two million dollars a year in reduced crop loss and reduced need for pesticides.

At the first pause in the flight a number of people left. The cave is in a somewhat remote part of Texas, several hours from Austin and San Antonio. But those of us who stayed were rewarded with more bats.

As always, click on any image to bigafy it. If you bigafy the image above you'll see a trail of bats well into the distance.

Bigify this image will and you'll see black dots at the limit of what the lens could resolve. Bats all, it looks light noise in the image.

With all these bats it should come as no surprise that there are predators. We had red-tailed and Swainson's hawks hunting that night.

They were surprisingly inefficient hunters.

Often coming up empty.

But not always.

It was a spectacular sight. And we were quite glad we decided to make the trek down to Concan to see it. If you are ever in that part of Texas it is well worth the visit.

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