Last Friday, we drove to Fredericksburg to meet up with fellow Travis Audubon members and had an early dinner at Fredericksburg Brewing Company. I had a tasty pork stew made with their Enchanted Rock red ale and served over seasoned mashed potatoes. After dinner, we carpooled and headed out to the Eckert James River Bat Cave in Mason and arrived at around seven in the evening. There was still enough light to view the millions of Mexican free-tailed bats when they came out to feed around quarter to eight in the evening.
“Southwest of the town of Mason near State Highway 29 in Mason County sits the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve—one of the largest bat nurseries in the country. About 4 million female bats inhabit the site from May through September. Most of these are pregnant when they arrive. In the Bat Cave, females give birth to a single pup in June or July. The young bats grow rapidly and are able to fly at about five weeks of age. However, they will remain with their mothers until they return to Mexico in October.”~www.nature.org
“Millions of Mexican free-tailed bats can be seen here. Like all bat species, the free-tailed population at the Bat Cave is an integral part of regional ecology. For many years, however, bats were considered menacing creatures to be avoided or destroyed. Thanks to the work of biologists and groups like Bat Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, this groundless reputation is slowly being corrected.”~www.nature.org
To know more about the preserve and help support it, click HERE.
Click play button for a short video clip.
It was a warm evening but when millions of bats came out from the cave, they created a cooling breeze as they swirled higher and higher to gain altitude. Some of the predators like the swainson’s hawk, great horned owl and raccoon were out waiting to catch their dinner. It was amazing to watch a hawk dive to grab a bat for its meal. Very unfortunate for that bat, but such is the circle of life. The viewing area was close to the cave’s entrance and some bats flew close to us, including the Myotis bats that came to feed later in the evening. It’s not the first time that I saw a bat flight but this is the closest I’ve felt or seen them. It was an awesome experience. Thanks to Craig, our team leader who made our whole trip successful. We didn’t only see the bats but we also went birding in the area. It was a fun overnight trip and I would recommend it to all nature/wildlife lovers.
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