Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ghosts of the Twilight

We had hopes for a pretty sunset tonight - clearing to the west, clouds overhead. It never developed into one of the postcard-gorgeous ones that the Southwest is known for. But one thing there were lots of - bats! I've mentioned their local abundance at twilight in previous blogs posts, but they seemed more abundant tonight. There seemed to be a couple dozen within 100 yards, so there were always a couple at any given moment against the sky. Since I had camera in hand waiting for the sunset, I tried taking shots of some of them. However the first thing you notice is that they do NOT fly like birds. They seem to change directions randomly over a time scale of a second or so. It was getting dark enough and they were moving fast and randomly enough that auto focus was worthless, so focused on a tree 30 yards away and shot a dozen or so shots with the telephoto, hoping to get one or two good ones. Well, these don't count as good ones, but are good enough to post as a blog topic. "Needs More Work", is how I would categorize these results!

I am not a bat expert, though I am a bat fan. These are likely Mexican Freetail bats - pretty common in these parts. I love observing them in the twilight during my walks. They are very beneficial for the environment - at least if you don't like flying insects, as they consume their weight in bugs nightly. There is, in fact, a "Bat Night" here in Tucson, complete with snacks and live music a couple miles from us here where Campbell Avenue crosses the Rillito Wash. A colony of upwards of 40,000 live in expansion cracks under the bridge. I've never attended, but saw it in the events section of the local paper. There is also a short, spectacular video on Youtube, of their exit from under the bridge. Be sure to check that out, and in the meantime, I'll work on getting better pictures!

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