Friday, August 26, 2011

flying high again

two weeks ago today we drove out to the yolo causeway to see mexican cave bats wake to their night's hunt and fly in ribbons underneath the causeway like it is a cave and over a tree that they think is the cave opening. the lands beneath and around the causeway are restored wetlands habitat that are also used as flood control. each winter the wetlands become reservoirs to store excess water and prevent flooding in the sacramento valley. in the summer these wetlands are also used as farmland. and it was the farm roads we travelled to get beside the causeway and watch the bats.

the yolo basin foundation hosts a bat talk and walk where biologists and docents give a lecture regarding indigenous bats and then lead a drive to the causeway where the mexican cave bats make their home. an estimated 250,000,00 bats make up the colony. the evening was perfect, including a full moon to add to the ambiance. the ribbons of bats did ascend higher and higher. anna pointed up in to the quickly darkening sky and said, look. you can see bats way up there. we asked a docent, how high will they fly? she told us that they've been observed to fly up to 20,000,00 ft to get to their meal of moths.

much myth is made of the bat. including misperceptions of their size. they are not large. as proof the biologist who gave the lecture brought in a couple of bats in her care. they are no bigger than your thumb without the wingspan. nor do they suck blood [for the most part. there are no vampire bats in california] or change into humans who prefer to sleep in coffins. instead we were privileged to the astonishing sight of thousands of bats waking to their hunt in a gorgeous section of restored habitat home to egrets, herons, and bugs galore. it was an evening where we could step out of our harried day-to-day muchness and recline into rhythms of the bats.


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