Mason County News
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Bat Cave Report
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 • Posted August 27, 2008

The harsh, dry days have somehow vanished from before us, and wonderfully green pastures and cooler weather stretches out before us like welcoming arms. We are glad to be greeted by this turn of events which is quite strange for this time of the year.

The bats at the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve are just as stunned, but quite excited about the prospect of more juicy bugs on the menu. All of the resident predators of the bats, whether crawling, flying, or lumbering to the cave area have also been showing less grumpiness and almost a carefree attitude about the prospect of snagging a tasty bat. It may be that they get their little tummies full later in the evening and are more or less just bidding their time. It is wonderful to see them in such a jovial mood.

A couple from Austin that comes to the cave every year visited this week. They were excited to see one of the young momma raccoons bring her two young kits down for a quick meal. The raccoons were all so fat that it looked like they should roll instead of walk. Their little faces were full of mischief. It seemed that they almost forgot what they had come for because they scampered about and fussed and romped until they pretty much just exhausted themselves. With mom leading the excursion, they finally headed to the concrete ledge and found plenty to fill their pooching little stomachs.

We had a couple of young visitors that really were quite a show in themselves. One seven year old named Cameron was a storehouse of bat info. I was quite delighted and entertained by the extent of his wisdom. I am sure that grandmother and grandfather who made the effort to bring this young man to the cave were also very impressed with what he knew!

The second young man was named Dillon. His bat knowledge was right on target. Like most young guys, he liked hearing how the Mexican free-tailed bat plays baseball. Better than even Mickey Mantle, these little ladies should have gone to the Olympics. When they spot a bug ahead of them, they pass it up and slam it with their tail right into their wing and then reach over and gobble it up while they fly. Pretty amazing, huh?

It is a pretty hard job trying to find interesting things that young ones have not already been taught in school or seen on television or the movies, but I give it my best shot! I do appreciate all of the research that different ones have done over the years so that I can broaden my knowledge of these delightful creatures.

I truly enjoy learning about the different life forms at the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. I have learned so much from persons that come out and share their knowledge with us. The plants, animals and even the rocks that are at the preserve have served many with hours of conversation.

Just this week I was able to share one of my childhood treasures with a group of people that had never seen a “doodle bug” (also known as an ant lion). Curious about the inverted tornado holes in the ground, I demonstrated what happened when a “volunteer red ant” went over the side. Dirt was immediately kicked up the sides of the hole which kept the ant from being able to escape. The ant was pulled down into the bottom of the hole and soon disappeared from sight. Before it disappeared, I felt an overwhelming remorse and thought about rescuing it. I know that if I could have seen under the dirt, the tiny ant lion was probably grinning that cute little country grin that tells you he is glad you didn’t bother doing what you thought about doing. Anyway, that thought kind of helps me over the speed bump of remorse.

It is late in the season now for any of you who have breathed out loud the idea of visiting the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve this year. Sure, you say it sounds too fun and exciting to be true. You hear all of your close friends talking about the hawks and the smiling snakes with names of their own and you are thinking more along the lines of a Disney movie than a reality situation. But still somewhere in the little space between grey cells in your head something tells you this could be true. And if it is true then you know you are missing out. The law of averages tells you that if you don’t go then you will be very angry later on.

To keep everyone happy, just give in and come on out. That way you won’t feel left out when people drop names and you have no clue what is going on. Be a part of it. Join us Thursday-Sunday from 6-9 p.m. to see what all of the excitement is about! Who knows, you may learn a little something too!!

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