Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
2012 Texas Nature Conservancy Steward
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 • Posted August 29, 2012

Once upon a time in a part of the world known as Texas was and is a small town known as Mason. Just a few miles southwest of Mason was and is a preserve. This preserve was and is known as The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. On this preserve was and is a cave. It was and is a very small cave by cave standards. In this small cave were and ARE millions of very tiny creatures known as Mexican free-tail bats. These mammals come to this particular cave in the early Spring and stay until about the first or second week in October. They go home to Mexico in October and live the colder months down there. This is where they will mate with the male of their choice and live from October till April before heading back to Texas. These bats come to this wonderful eight acres of land to give birth to their pups each Spring.

Like all stories beginning with “once upon a time”, there are always elements that make it sad or scary. Small mammals like this type of bat are a tremendous food source for other bigger meat- eating creatures. That is where our story starts on Sunday night, August 26Th.

I was at the seating area enjoying meeting a delightful home school group that used this experience as a teaching tool. All of a sudden one of the students pointed across to the other side of the cave. It wasn’t so much the pointing that got my attention, but the huge smile and look of wonderment as he pointed. Across from us was Felicity Fox. She lives and eats on this small tract of land. In the most beautiful form for a red fox, she moved with utmost grace searching all of the low limbs of the persimmon trees for bats that may have gotten injured during the night and hung to the tree to get strength or heal. Felicity indeed found a meal for the night after about fifteen minutes. She fed quietly on the tiny meal, looked over at us as if to say goodnight and slowly climbed up the side of the hill and disappeared from view.

Just a fairy tale? Just an enhancement for the group which made this educational experience their goal on a Sunday evening? Who knows. As I sit here typing this I have doubts of it happening. To be able to enjoy the company of a fox for over fifteen minutes without fear on either part is almost unreal. The unreality of it all is that it is a reality. This reality happens over and over on this preserve known as The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. Turn off the TV, grab the kids and head on out to witness this for yourself. A new REALITY show in the making? Again, who know what the future holds. All I can say is that I haven’t run into Snow White, Red Riding Hood, or even Shrek, but I am still keeping an eye out.....

Emergence time has been around 7:45 P.M. but can change up to an hour from night to night. I give an educational presentation at 7:30 P.M. Thursday-Sunday night. Bring a flashlight since it gets dark before we head back to the seating areas and we certainly do not want to miss seeing any of the goings on. Don’t forget to pack a few warm smiles....you WILL need them.... Come soon before ARE changes to WERE. ...see ya at the cave!!

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