Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bats of Bracken Cave

This summer I crossed another thing off my bucket list and went to visit Bracken Cave outside San Antonio.  Bracken is the largest concentration of mammals in one place, with 20 million bats in a cave - mothers and pups.  These are Mexican Free Tail bats - quite small.  Photos can't do the experience any justice - but you can arrange to visit through Bat Conservation International and see the bats depart the cave at night or return in the morning.  With the concentration of bats, there are also predators - I saw skunks, snakes and birds of prey.  Photography was a severe challenge.  There is a live webcam you can watch and many videos and photos by professionals if you want a better capture of the experience.  I highly recommend it and hope to go back. 
 The bats fly off to eat insects over agricultural fields miles away.
 The night we were there we saw a family of 4 young skunks following mom around, eating bats.
 I didn't get a good photo, but birds of prey waited in the trees for the bats to emerge.
 The bats looked like a fringe on the rock.
 Bad photo but one of the only one I could get of both roosting and flying bats.
The bats begin to trickle out and then form a tornado of bats.  We saw several albino bats, which was pretty cool - those are the only ones you can hone in on in the throngs.
 I found it near impossible to get any flying bats in focus.
 I couldn't capture the swarms well either - so dark with life.
 Bats emerging from the cave.
 A snake above the cave eating a bat.
 We saw several of these snakes.  They would wait, then catch a bat and eat.  No one went hungry.
 One of the bats fell from the sky onto one of the onlookers.  After a rest it moved on.  I guess they do crash into each other sometimes.
The sky, swirled with both slight colors of sunset and millions of bats (literally) was really amazing to see.