Friday, September 17, 2010

Old Tunnel Bat Emergence

 Photo Courtesy of Nyta Brown and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

If you're not there when the miracle happens, you won't see it.

Last weekend, we were.  There, at the Old Tunnel near Comfort, only feet from the ravine.  When 3,000,000+ Mexican free-tailed bats streamed into the night. 
As the air cooled near sunset, a few bats rocketed from the black-hole mouth of the tunnel.  Then hundreds and thousands, until suddenly fifty thousand bats a minute streaked by in a grayish blur, wings sweeping a bat-scented breeze with a whisper-roar of flapping.   

Reaching the edge of the forest, they whirled in circles until the flow became a column rising like a living tornado above and beyond the trees into the darkening sky. 

The spectacle lasted more than half an hour.  

Walking back up the trail, we felt light, as if our minds and hearts flew too.

You can see this miracle also.  Just make the easy pilgrimage to Old Tunnel before the end of October, when the bats return to Mexico.  Or hope the future is kind and plan for next year, May-October.

PS  No one knows when the bats began roosting in the tunnel.  But they eat fifty thousand pounds of insects a night and local farmers hope they prosper. As do we.

 Copyright 2009-2010 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Wow! I can just imagine how cool that must have been. And I can just imagine all that bat guano.
    I love bats because they eat so many insects. They are unsung heroes!

  2. Wow. That must be an amazing spectacle to witness. . . definitley something I'll have to check out if I ever find myself in the area. We're lucky if we see one or two out in the evenings, but the mosquito problem has gotten so bad in our neighborhood that we're putting a bathouse up. Not that we'll ever be able to fit 3,000,000 inside of it. I'd be happy with 3!

  3. Such a great idea! I've been to the tunnel. Great spot. Our kids were 7, 4, and 4 at the time. We didn't get to stick around for the bats. Want to next time. Maybe soon. Husband's birthday is coming. His people are from Comfort so he's got a really special connection to the area.

  4. That is awesome.

    Have a terrific weekend. Tell Denny I said yo.

    Love you guys,


  5. " A whisper-roar"
    You have a way with descriptive word play. (genius)
    I love it !!

  6. We've seen the flight from Carlsbad Caverns and Congress Bridge. They were both pretty amazing.

    We'll have to get over to this one. Comfort's not that far away.

    Thanks for the info.

    Have a great weekend.

  7. What a good, good description, Kathleen. It pulled me right in to this scene. x0 N2

  8. Oh, thank you so much for this! You are such a great resource for us, and such fabulous pictures!

  9. I've never seen them. I think there might be a Hill Country camping trip coming up. That would be worth a drive from Llano.

  10. Now that is truly WILD. Thank you for sharing a bit of the experience!

  11. I love bats. We have bats in our hood and we go out at dusk some times just to marvel at them flapping around. One of my neighbors grandchildren recently grabbed her by the hand and drug her to the "big big butterfly upstairs." Yep...a bat.Live long and prosper bats of the world. Thanks for sharing the wonder.

  12. Oh I've always wanted to see the bats there! Must have been incredible. I feel privileged when I see one or two fly around our pond. And amaing hummingbird rescue- I couldn't bring up that post form for some reason, but so neat that you could be there!

  13. Hope you weren't standing underneath when they flew by.


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