Sunday, April 27, 2008

Turning Free-tail for home

I've been going to the bat cave near Concan, Texas nearly annually since 1989, so I thought that there was little that would surprise me when it came to observing the spectacle of the evening departure of millions of Mexican Free-tailed Bats. But as it turns out, we had some stormy weather this year which dropped temperatures into the 50's and created some high winds. Would the bats come out at all? Sure enough, they eventually started out. After some twenty minutes of bats streaming out, the most amazing thing happened. Bats that had departed earlier began plummeting out of the sky at tremendous speed directly toward the entrance to the cave. Some of these would then get caught up in the departing stream again before pealing off to complete their return. They were actually aborting their night flight. They flooded in by the thousands, and soon the departing stream disappeared all together and the last several thousand returned to the warmth of the cave. Wow!