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| To the Bat Cave! (24) |
I appreciate the kind remarks made on my image of a Swainson's Hawk hunting Bats in my last post - so I thought I'd share a more in-depth look at this amazing event. Pardon the high image count...I lost control
Located on the private Armendaris ranch in New Mexico, the caves are actually lava tubes formed from an ancient volcano that erupted some 700,000 years ago, and coincidentally, nearly identical in timing to the volcanic eruptions that defined the Serengeti in Tanzania (my other favorite place)
While their are several different species here, the population is predominately Mexican Free-tailed Bats - which migrate up from Mexico. Though the total biomass fluctuates greatly, it is generally in the millions! From late May to the end of July they are raising their young, and in August the young start to fly - and that's when it gets really interesting. The Swainson's Hawks (and Peregrin Falcons) have been congregating here to feed on the Bats for centuries, much the same way Bears congregate to Salmon streams. At it peak this past August I counted over 75 Swainson's hunting at the same time.
So, first you have to get to the cave, and that entails 35 miles of bumps and dust after you leave the pavement - and I thought I'd show a few more pics of critters to be seen along the way....then the Bat show.
Thanks for looking - and please offer any critique you may have....I'm trying to improve.