Everything was crisp. The soft wind hit your face with the express warning that winter was on the way. Six of us gathered at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve to do the end of the season cleaning and clearing. Sharon and Charles Taylor drove hours to assist in the cleanup. Dalton, Jana and Jordan Ritter didn’t have that long of a drive, but their effort was more than appreciated. This tenacious group understood the directive for the day and they set in motion hitting that goal.
We cleared out old brush, thinned the ever-expanding cactus patches, removed cat claw, downed dead trees and redesigned the parking area for better flow of traffic. All in all, we had a tremendous output of energy and it shows. Now the native grasses can breathe in the sweet rays of the sun that they so desperately need to survive.
We also set up composting piles of the cleared debris to use on the trails in the spring. Ruts in the trail that are caused from the heavy spring rains are something that we sometimes have to deal with. Having a constant composting pile would give us the needed fill from materials from the Preserve. This would eliminate the possible spread of disease or unwanted invasive plants that could be brought in from outside fill.
Saturday evening was also blowing a wonderfully cool breeze when we pulled in to the preserve at 6:00 P.M. Unlike the staying power of the volunteers earlier in the day, cooler weather has finally taken its toll on The Eckert James River Bat Cave bats. Not a single bat greeted us. No, cooler weather is not something these tiny mammals like to contend with. But, they will be here again in the spring to excite the masses that will come to visit next season.
There were a few creatures that greeted us. One was this tiny bug (see photo) who was more than willing to sit quietly and very still while Jana Ritter took her photograph. I have been given a book on bugs by a wonderful couple who celebrated their anniversary at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve this year. I am going to spend the cold, winter months learning something special about each bug that Jana has photographed on the Preserve this year. These bugs are constant proof of the care and determination that The Nature Conservancy has in protecting creatures and plants, great and small, on this planet that we call home. I am delighted to have been able to serve you in a small way for the last five seasons in continuing that protection for the tremendous little eight acres that we lovingly call, The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. I look forward to being the steward next year and hope to see all of you out at the cave making memories that will last lifetimes! Until then, smile often and take time to bend down and look a bug in the eye....then smile even more!