Thursday, September 16, 2010

Old Wildlife Tunnel Again and Again!

I can't believe we did it, but... we saw a colony of bats twice within twelve hours!

I posted photos awhile back of our trip to the Old Wildlife Tunnel in Fredericksburg on my blog, Grateful for Grace. It was great! The view was spectacular and the photos reflected that.

We sat at the top section because it was $5 a person to go to the lower section. Uhhh... $40 for our family? Not gonna do it.

BUT groups can reserve the lower viewing area (holds 70 people) on Monday through Wednesday nights for $40 total. Uhhhh.... $4.56 for our family. Yup!

Our homeschool group went last night. Wowza! What an experience! While my photos are not spectacular this time (I haven't mastered low light/lots of movement photography), the evening was for sure!

The Texas Parks and Wildlife volunteer spoke to the group first about bats in general, bat emergences, Mexican Free Tail bats, and such. It was delightfully educational and not too long.

Then the bats started emerging and jaws dropped. We were so stinkin' (pun intended... guano smell, ya' know) close to the bats it was startling at times. They swirled and circled and rose right before our eyes.

Three million bats.

This photo was taken with my camera zoomed in all the way, but not with a telephoto lens this time. We were seriously close to the bats.

Honestly, it was beautiful.

In a, "Wow! Three million little animals are flying right by my face" kind of way.

I didn't know that bat emergences can actually be seen on radar because of the amount of animals suddenly filling the sky at a precise spot! This photo shows what it looks like, on radar, when bats start coming out across a small area of Texas. This changes once the bats disperse, about twenty minutes later.
We've watched bat emergences four times (Lamar Street Bridge, Round Rock I-35 Overpass, and Old Wildlife Tunnel three times [third time is last on this post... keep reading!]). Old Wildlife Tunnel is so different. You can see the large river of bats, but you also have the option of seeing the bats up close. Each way of watching has its advantages. I'm glad I've been able to take the kids to see it both ways.

If you can get to The Old Wildlife Tunnel, I believe it's worth the drive. If you don't have a large family, it's worth the $5 a person. If you do have a large family, consider getting a group together to reserve the lower viewing area and splitting the price.

I'd recommend watching down at the lower viewing area for half the time (ask the volunteer how long it should last since this varies through the summer) and then, while it's still light and bats are still emerging, walking up to the higher area so you can see the long river of bats in the sky.

AND just when I didn't think it could get better! We went back this morning! The volunteer talked last night about how in the morning it's amazing to watch all the bats come home. She said it "is like it's raining bats" and that the "zoop!" sound they make as they tuck in their wings to dive down is awesome.

She was soooo stinkin' right, plus some!

We sat and were slack jawed for minutes just taking in the fact that bats were streaking right over our heads and all around the sky dropping into the tunnel entrance below. It was seriously astonishing.We arrived at 7am and couldn't believe our eyes and ears. Bats everywhere and, yet, seemingly from no where. They were simply dropping out of the sky, it seemed. Then we started to notice clouds of bats in different directions coming in from far off. They came home in shifts just like they had left.

I can not express how cool it was! It was worth leaving the house at 6:30 in the morning, in the dark, foggy of mind, to arrive and sit through such an unusual event. Wow.
My photos don't do it justice since the bats were flying at thirty-five miles an hour! I was able to capture one as it zoomed just four feet over my head, per chance, seen in the first photo. We were closer than these photos make it look. If you go, bring a video camera to capture the sights and sounds. You won't regret it!

The "breakfast with the bats" is free and a one of a kind experience. Again, The Old Wildlife Tunnel offers something special for your family that I believe will be talked about for years.

From Our School to Yours: Look for a bat colony site near you where you can watch an emergence. If you are in Texas, your chances for one nearby are very good! Take the time to go watch this crazy amazing event. It's still the right season for a month or so more. It's a wonderful field trip and it's usually FREE!

11 comments:

  1. That is very cool! We enjoy our private, much smaller! show every night. Our hummingbird feeder bats are still coming around, and yes, they are crazy fast. I cannot imagine seeing that many all close up like that!

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  2. Sooo cool! We had orthodontist stuff early this morning, so we are planning to do it early tomorrow morning. I love that you went. You are the coolest mom EVER! Lisa~

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  3. I am so excited you went! I told Brandon about it and we are definitely going to go sometime too! AWESOME! You are a fabulous mom and teacher! Quick question....can you go for the early morning trip ANY day? We would have to go on a Saturday or Sunday...
    I can't wait to go! Thanks for sharing sis! (I'll give you a call later, I'm hoping you're sleeping right now!)

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  4. The funny thing is that we were home by 8:15. Planned to be back at 8 for My Sweetie to be at work. We were a tad late... just couldn't tear ourselves away.

    You can do the morning one any day. No one else was even there. We sat at the handicapped entrance (like she suggested) and it was perfect.

    I wouldn't let the kids use a spoon that touched the ground since... you know... there was bat guano everywhere.

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  5. That is so incredible! I'll have to get the hubby to take us next time we are in town...

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  6. We love your post! May we share a link to this blog post on the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau's Facebook and Twitter sites? Personal experiences can really engage potential visitors, and you do such a wonderful job of explaining the Bat Tunnel. If possible, we'd like to link to your blog. Let us know!

    Laura Short
    fredericksburgtxcvb@gmail.com
    www.facebook.com/fredericksburgtx
    twitter.com/visitfredtx

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  7. OK, this was truly amazing. Our second time to "get close"! Great pictures! We took some video and might even have a certain friend "looking somewhat frightful"! The kids and I will definitely return some morning to watch them come home.

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  8. Wow, thanks for sharing. I have seen the Lamar street bridge bats(that was neat).But this looks so much better.So close you need a hat? I will have to remember this the next time I am down your way. Bats are so cool.

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  9. Ok...I love that smell. Free-tails have a really distinct smell...not just the guano...and I love it. I can smell them from quite a distance. And they are so cute...you can't deny it.

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