Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rio Frio Bat Colony

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We arrived in Concan on Saturday afternoon and had an early dinner at Neal's Lodges. The food there is very good and is reasonably priced. Plus from  our table we were able to watch through the window as Black-chinned and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flocked to feeders outside.





We weren't staying at Neal's on this trip because the accommodations are really over-priced. Also, it is irritating that the owners promise to stock the many seed feeders year-round but rarely do so.

At 7:00 Saturday evening we drove five miles down the road to join a tour to see the Rio Frio / Concan colony of 10-12 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats.

 

With several other vehicles we drove up to the cave where the bats come to have their babies every summer.



While we waited for the bats to emerge, the guide told us about the history of the cave and the guano harvesting that has taken place there for well over a hundred years. We were also entertained by scores of Cave Swallows flying in and out of the cave, by a Canyon Wren singing on top of an abandoned guano drier, and by a tarantula crawling around on the ground.


"Here come the bats," the guide said. We looked, expecting initially to see only a dribble of bats flying out. We were wrong. The bats immediately poured out in their thousands, many of them only yards above our heads.


The spectacle was overwhelming as a constant stream of bats flew out and then spread across the sky in huge clouds and streams. 




A couple of bats dropped out of the sky to land on their backs near our feet. One of them then turned over and crawled onto my sandal.


High in the sky a Peregrine Falcon  hunted among the bats.

As the sun set, the clouds of bats made a wonderful sight against the darkening orange sky.


From what we'd read before the trip, we been expecting a dramatic sight. However, the reality was even better than we had dared to hope. This really is one of the great wildlife spectacles. I put it right up there with viewing humpback whales off Maui or watching lions in Kruger National Park.

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