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and life along the winding road

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Old Tunnel Bat Emergence

Looking out across the vista of rolling hills, it is hard to imagine that just below, in a disused railway tunnel, over a million bats have colonized and would soon be emerging for their evening meal. Before the end of June more than 3 million Mexican Free Tailed Bats had lived in their man-made cave, but the female bats left to give birth elsewhere.

The Old Tunnel is 11 miles from Fredericksburg and the area is maintained by Old Tunnel Wildlife Management. The tunnel was excavated for a railway tunnel but the trains are long gone.

At 9:00 p.m. as dusk fell over the old tunnel, a few bats flew out. Above us the sounds of cicadas reached a crescendo. Soon the bats were like a swarm, swirling in the shape of a tornado. Barely visible until they rose above the trees, the bats continued to fly from the tunnel for more than thirty minutes, bringing with them a smell that I can only describe as powdery. Fireflies flashed among the dense brush as the bats rushed out looking for insects and water.

What an amazing experience.


Claire said...

Beautiful picture of the trees and hills! I wish we had checked this out when we were in Fredericksburg a few months ago!

Mason Canyon said...

Love the photos. Timely post as the DNR in our state is holding a conference next week about the importance of bats in the area.

Thoughts in Progress

Bookventures said...

Wow, it does sound like an amazing experience. As for the smell, i think you're dead on about it. lol I can only imagine how it must have made your nose turn up...lol. Great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Nan said...

Sounds like a horror movie to me! Actually the bats in our area are disappearing from some disease they think cave visitors brought from caves in another state. There is much concern that insect populations may increase because of the problem. I don't think they know how to get rid of the disease. Very sad.

Alicia said...

"In the large maternity colonies of Mexican free-tails, the mother must find her own pup among the thousands. It is thought that she locates her baby by recognizing its individual call."