Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Day 3… to Carlsbad and the Bat Flight

10th July 2009

(writing and posted mostly from my iPhone, including the photos!)

After a lovely day visiting our friends at Mercy Ships yesterday (hopefully a recap post will come soon!), we drove all the way across Texas today, arriving at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico about an hour before sunset. We were too late to see the caverns (on the agenda for first thing in the am), but we had planned all along to see the amazing nightly bat flight out of the cave.

The sun was just setting, and it was perfect timing. We sat in amphitheater above the descending entrance to the cave while the ranger gave an informative talk. There were speakers that picked up movement inside the bat cave, first quiet clicking, then it grew to static. At this point, the ranger stopped her talk abruptly, turned off the staticy speakers, which indicated much movement inside, and we all (like 200 people – a full amphitheater!) waited and held our breath, uncertain of what to expect.  A couple minutes later, tiny bats started coming out of the cave entrance, circling clock-wise, amassing right above the entrance, until they started flying out in huge groups, looking like smoke trails in the sky.  There were more at times, and then less at times, but the continued coming out of the cave for more than a half an hour, flying in huge groups in various directions.  The first groups even flew over us, and Brian felt like he could have reached up and touched them!  It was amazing to see.  There must have been hundreds of thousands of them.  Even Analise and Josiah were mesmerized and impressed.

Photos in the amphitheater were prohibited because the frequency emitted by cell phones and cameras can impede the bats echolocation.  But I snagged a couple photos before they started leaving just to show you the feel of the amphitheater and the cave entrance, and then a couple quick ones as we were walking up the trail away from the bats departure.  (I took them super quick and on the sly, as I was afraid my having my phone turned on would confuse the bats and I’d see them start crashing to the ground!  Thankfully, no bats were injured in the taking of these photos!) You can see the black-ish streaks in the dusk sky. I’m impressed with the photos, but still, it was nothing like seeing them so close in the amphitheater.  Very cool!

The entrance to the cave from the amphitheater

The crowds…

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