Saturday, October 4, 2008

Camera Critter Meme #26

As I have mentioned in several past Camera Critter Meme posts, I enjoyed the time I spent in Texas in April 2007. From the butterflies, to the dragonflies, to the birds, it was a blast. However, one of the best places I visited is the subject of this week's post.

The morning was spent at Lost Maples State Natural Area (where a number of my past CCM photos were taken) and the afternoon at Garner State Park, along the Frio River. After having a late lunch, we headed off towards the Frio River Bat Cave to witness the emergence of bats from a cave on private property.

For a per person fee, visitors can watch as millions of Brazilian Free-tail bats take flight on summer nights to head for their hunting grounds. It's estimated that the cave is host to more than 12 million bats.

The bat cave

As the sun begins to settle, a few bats will venture outside and go on the hunt. But those few are nothing compared to what comes out moments later. I had been told what to expect, but nothing can prepare a person for the number of bats which suddenly appear and spiral into the air.

And out they come

And as the bats showed, so did the predators. Hawks of various types, including Crested Caracara, Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson's Hawks and various species of falcons, descended on the flocks of bats. The birds would grab a bat in mid-air with its talons, take a few bites out of it on the wing, drop the remains and go for another. This lasted for as long as the bats emerged from the cave. It was an amazing sight to witness. However, you did need to watch out for falling bat debris.

A Broad-wing Hawk joins the feast

As the colony exit the cave, they would gather in separate groups and head off in different directions. The individual colonies are so large, they can be seen as a smudge on the horizon long after they have left the area of the cave.

The bats depart for nightly hunting grounds

The bats migrate to several caves in the Texas area every spring. The Frio River Bat Cave is the second larget colonies in the World. These flying mammals move to the caves from Mexico to birth and raise their pups. Then head south again in late summer.

If you ever in the area of Concan, Texas on a warm, summer evening, take the time to head to the cave. It will be well worth it.

If you enjoy photos of critters, please stop by Misty Dawn's Camera Critter Meme check out the posts. Better yet...join in the fun.

23 comments:

Yen said...

WOW! those shots are amazing! It must be nice to go there! Lovely shots as well!Mine is posted HERE. Happy CC!~

ratmammy said...

amazing photos!!!

Lapa37 said...

Amazing shots how lucky were you to be able to catch those bats.

The Holleys said...

Oh wow! Those are really great shots! You captured them well. :)

Busy Mom in Iowa said...

Ewww...bats!!! These are very nice pictures though :) Someone I work with was in TX on business and decided to check out one of those bat caves, and she waited and waited for dusk...and when it finally came...nothing!! She said almost no bats came out of the cave!!!

Reader Wil said...

This is extremely interesting! Bats are so rare in Holland as we have but a few caves in the south of the Netherlands. Very good informative post! And a beautiful sunset too.
Have a nice weekend.

Dirk said...

Wow, amazing sight. So many!

Christy said...

Wonderful photos. I only hope to be able to do something like this one day.

splummer said...

Hi!
Awesome photos!!! We have a colony of bats that live in our attic. They are Indiana Brown Bats and are on the endangered species list. I have never gotten any photos of them, don't know why. Take Care!!

Sherrie

Sandy Kessler said...

wow now that'sthe movie BIRDS for sure!! sk

Dina said...

Wowee! You did say 12 MILLION??
What an experience, to see all those bats on the wing and to witness the food chain in action.

AppleDebbie said...

Wow... what an amazing series of photos! 12 Million bats is a mind boggling number... great post!

Cathy said...

What a fantastic experience!

fishing guy said...

Ash: I still have a hard time with bats, I keep looking for Dracula to appear. My you captured a large group from the cave.

Faye Pekas said...

This is absolutely amazing. I would LOVE to be there for the show!

Even more amazing to me though... Did you notice in the first shot that the cave entrance is also shaped like a bat? Straaange..

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Wow! That was amazing. I would say that was money well spent.

twobarkingdogs said...

WoW! Great photos! Thanks for sharing.

Please stop by both blots for some camera critters!

http://www.twobarkingdogs.wordpress.com
and
http://onevintagephoto.wordpress.com/

Hope you have a great weekend!

arlene said...

what a swarm!!!

beautiful shots!

Müge Tekil said...

Wonderful shots sharing with us this very interesting experience as if we watch a documentary film! Have a nice Sunday!

Misty Dawn said...

As Faye commented, the entrance to the cave does have the shape of a bat - that is really bool!

I can't imagine what an amazing experience this must have been. I guess it would be comparable to when the Snow Geese migrated here and there were millions of them (you memember?). But, this experience would be like the Snow Geese experience times 10. bwahahaha

I'm really loving the shots you got of the bats and the sunset.

Gayle said...

What a fantastic experience. I can imagine the sounds...

Gretchen said...

I am not a fan of bats! I don't think I would have been able to stay there and take those shots.

Kelly said...

Wow! These are amazing bats!!! It looks like there's thousands of them! Great captures!