The other night, during adventures designed to escape reality for a short while, my sister and I went to see the bat flight at Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge.
During the summer, a large colony of gray bats emerges at dusk for feeding. Recent estimates has numbered the population in the 300,000 to 400,000 range. In my mind, I imagined that they would all emerge, in one gigantic whoosh, from the cave mouth. I drag my sister out to near the middle of nowhere, up a sketchy looking path, after parking on the side of the road, as it’s getting darker and darker.
Only, that really isn’t how the bats performed. We waited and watched, then noticed one, then two occasional little dark gray, silent, fluttering objects near the cave mouth. It’s very hard to see, because the bats are dark, the cave mouth is dark and the surrounding vegetation is dark. (And like fools we didn’t bring a good flashlight). So we waited some more. We saw another singular winged mammal, then another. Hm. This isn’t at all what I expected. Then, suddenly, seester grabbed my arm, and pointed, and said look up! The sky is a lot lighter than it seems, and against that contrast we could see them. First a few, then dozens, then more bats noiselessly swooping back and forth.
It was a Sistine chapel moment, if anything. You expect to be immediately wowed, but you aren’t. Then you are a tiny bit disappointed by the hype. But, then you sit back, and have a chance to take it all in, the wow fills in gradually.
The information posted at the cave, indicated the colony consumes billions of insects each night. BILLIONS! Unfortunately, those bugs feasted on two seesters first, because we realized we had neglected bug spray on our arms and were ett up, so to speak.
And, boy, does a bat cave smell Terr-i-ble!
Batman doesn’t seem so glamorous, now.