Thursday, July 24, 2008

Utopia right here in Texas

All images enlarge with a click.

Last night I got to go see the Utopia Sunset Bat Flight.

It was last night that Dolly was due to hit us. She didn't so much hit as as wave howdy as she skirted our entire area. Ah, well, even a tiny bit of rain is better than no rain at all. And she certainly cooled things off.

The Bat Site signage was outstanding, don'tcha think? We weren't even sure if the bat flight would happen. The gate stays locked if there's rain or mud and rain seemed extremely likely. Bats won't fly if it's raining and if there's flooding or mud, it's hard to get to the bat cave. As it was, the remnants of Dolly were threatening enough that the bats didn't perform the most remarkable exodus in the history of bat flights--but I was happy. It was beautiful in Utopia and the sound of the bats alone alone was worth it--all those tiny wings and rushing air!

Despite their low-tech sign, the Utopia Bat Cave website actually has some Interesting Batography and it's worth looking at if you are into spelunking and/or bats, which I am.

This was pretty much my first view of the bat flight as we drove up to the bat cave last night. It may have been a relatively small flight (that we could see before it got too dark) but it was still beautiful. On a good night, 10 or 12 million bats come flying out of this cave--bat flights can be so thick that they show up on doppler radar. According to the website, Utopia Sunset Bat Flight boasts the second largest bat population in the world but the 1st largest that's open to the public.

I've seen bat flights before, but I don't remember seeing them quite this way. I'm usually either driving and catching a flight (from the corner of my eye) as it comes from under a bridge somewhere near Austin, Tx or I'm right smack at the cave entrance where I can't appreciate the "bat stream" as it comes out of the cave.

I got a lot of shots of these beige streaks zooming around the entrance of the cave. They seem to circle endlessly as they exit, like a bat tornado rising up out of the ground. S'awesome.

The bat flight doesn't begin until nearly dusk so it was a bit too dark for landscape shots. I was bummed because the landscape was remarkable. I see on their website that they have a nature center "coming soon." I hope it includes access to some of their hilltops so I can go out and shoot the Rio Frio and the surrounding hills to my heart's content! My very good and precious friend, Jean Levert Hood, has spent a lot of hours soaking up inspiration for her artwork on the Rio Frio. I'll have to pick her brain about who will let me roam their Rio Frio property and shoot.

I was trying to shoot the landscape as much as I was trying to shoot the "Dolly Clouds" as they came rolling over the area. It's a shame I'd already lost the light.

Click To See Umpteen Billion Pix from the Sunset Bat Flight Tour.


Texas Travelers said...

Great photos of the bats. The first one of the exodus is outstanding.

Looks like your photography is going well. Nice work.


Genie said...

Thanks, Troy. I can't wait to go back and shoot several million more bats!

Jean Levert Hood said...

Genie, I had no idea we had bats in Utopia! I thought the ones North of town were the only ones close by.


You will love shooting on the Frio!! In the fall, we should go together.

Genie said...

Jean, I was thinking of you so much as I looked over my shoulder at the Rio Frio. Yes, I would very much like to go with you in the fall! I'll even carry your easel if you'll just show me where to go!

Texas Travelers said...

Thanks for the visit.

You're close. Go to the Coast for a day. Take your camera. Shoot the beach, flowers, footprints, waves, clouds, sky. Take a lot of sunscreen. Have a good time. Post lots of great photos.

Troy and Martha

Genie said...

Hey Troy and Martha,

Health and finances make the coast seem impossibly far away right now. I'm hoping I get to travel again one day! And when I do, my camera and many batteries and memory cards will go with me!

Kim and Victoria said...

That's so cool!