Last Thursday, Rob and I had the fantastic opportunity to go to Bracken Bat Cave and watch around 20 million bats emerge from their cave to go hunting. Of course, we didn’t see that many bats – we were told it takes almost all night for the entire colony to emerge.
It was incredible. As we walked up to the area above the cave, we first noticed the stench of bat (and, apparently, beetle) guano. It wasn’t too bad, but fairly powerful. After the initial blast it wasn’t very noticeable.
The cave (picture below, also more pictures on my flickr photoset) was really just this huge hole in the ground. Once things started hopping with the bats you could see thousands of them circling the cave mouth in some instinctive holding pattern.
Then they just came spiraling out of the cave, thousands and thousands of them. The vortex of bats created a breeze as it rose from the cave – they were so close you could hear their wings whirring. As more and more of them came out, they began to stream south in this endless river in the sky.
It was absolutely an amazing sight.
Swirling in the mouth of the cave:
Those smudges? Bats.
Swooping around and around until they streamed off south:
More pictures are here!