February 3rd, 2012: First time watching a bat colony emerge at sunset.
My friend Brian, as well as some other folks, recommended that we check out the evening bat emergence on the University of Florida campus while we're here in town. Viewing this local nature show is best done in the spring and summer months, on pleasant evenings when the temperature is above 65 degrees. It being February, and dancing around in the mid sixties range lately, we weren't sure what we'd end up with, but we gave it a go anyway.
I think we lucked out, honestly. I read that there can be large crowds during the more popular viewing months, but we were able to find parking very close by (free on campus after 4:30 and on weekends!) and shared the experience with maybe 20 other people.
Though there are a few different species in these bat houses, the most common is the Brazilian free-tailed bat, called so for its tail, which is long like a mouse's. And there are a couple hundred thousand of them hanging out in there, consuming about 2.5 billion bugs every night. How's that for pest control?
I don't know about you, but I've always had a bit of a soft spot for bats. They're really quite cute when seen up close! I could have done without being.. er.. bombed a few times, but when you're standing under a swarm of several thousand bats who've just woken up from a nap, you sort of have to expect to be peed on. In any case - a very cool sight and I'd recommend it to others!
And guess what? Even if you're not in Florida, I've discovered that you too can watch the bats come out to play, thanks to the magic of the internets! Live streaming bat-cams here!
All right. In other exciting news, tomorrow is the last day of the Gainesville faire! While Jimmy performs, I'll be spending the day prepping the RV for the drive, and as soon as the gates are open at the end of the day, we are outta here! Just got a call a few minutes ago from a friend who is already on site in AZ, and everyone's checking in on Facebook about their progress on the road. Texas seems to be driving everyone insane, but we shall be victorious! Rennies converge! Arizona, here we come!