Flowers and Bats

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
Trip End Sep 08, 2010

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Guest of Bonnie Wilson

Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, June 11, 2010

Up and running around 8am we relaxed a bit this morning around the house. Bonnie was up much earlier than us, as usual, and as we were doing our morning routine she went to morning mass.  After she returned she asked me if I would help her with the Singer sewing machine she bought.  I showed her how to thread both the top thread and bobbin as well as how to wind the bobbin.  Tested the stitching and talked about the different stitches.  We even hemmed a pair of slacks for her doing a blind stitch on the machine.  She did a great job.  Bonnie and I ran off the Hobby Lobby, a great craft store I use to love when I lived in Tulsa, OK.  It's a great store not unlike Michael's which is a prefab craft store with crafts that are mostly done.  I picked up some beads, wire and a neat mini-tool kit.  When we got back to Bonnie’s cottage I made her a rosary bracelet.   

Around 3pm we took off to Ladybird Wildflower Center.  Lady Bird Johnson, our former first lady, and actress Helen Hayes founded an organization in 1982 to protect and preserve North America's native plants and natural landscapes. First as the National Wildflower Research Center and later as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this special place exists to introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants. Every day, the Wildflower Center brings life to Mrs. Johnson's vision in its public gardens, its woodlands and sweeping meadows as well as in internationally influential research. In 2006, the Center became an Organized Research Unit of the University of Texas at Austin.

Decades ago, Mrs. Johnson recognized that our country was losing its natural landscapes and its natural beauty. As much as 30 percent of the world’s native flora is at risk of extinction. The Wildflower Center was intended to help preserve and restore that beauty and the biological richness of North America. Since then, the Center has become one of the country’s most credible research institutions and effective advocates for native plants. The Center’s gardens display the native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South and West Texas, while the Plant Conservation Program protects the ecological heritage of Texas by conserving its rare and endangered flora.

Went to Texicans Restaurant for dinner, good food, good service, good friends which all added up to a great meal.  Then off to the Bat boat and Congress Bridge bats.  The Congress Avenue Bridge spans Town Lake in downtown Austin and is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.  The colony is estimated at 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats.   Each night from mid-March to November, the bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food.  This event has become one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions in Texas.  The most spectacular bat flights are during hot, dry August nights, when multiple columns of bats emerge.  There are several points from which to view the event.  We choose Capital Cruises for our evening adventure.  Austin is home to the Largest Electric Paddle Wheel Boat fleet in the Country and the now famous Sunset Bat Watching excursion. 
Here are some interesting facts we learned about bats:

     Bats service the people of San Antonio by consuming 10,000 to 30,000 insects every night.

     Bats can live to be 30 years old.

     Mother bats give birth to a single pup each year.  The pups birth weight is nearly 1/3 that of its mother.  This is equivalent to a human mommy giving birth to a 40lb baby.

     Bats are mammals and nurse the pups from mammary glands.  Each female recognizes her pups voice and smell and will nurse only her pup.

     During migrations to Mexico and back, bats may reach an altitude of 10,000 feet and velocities of 60 miles per hour.

Although we didn’t get to see the usual plethora of bats that are shown in the pictures, we did get to see a few.  Due to the wet weather there were a lot of bugs around this year and all the bats are just plump with full tummies.  They didn’t have to forge very far to get their fill and they were not as hungry this evening.  During dryer weather there are not as many bugs and more bats have to forge out further every night looking for food. 

Since we didn’t get to see a lot of bats our boat Pilot/guide, Tony provided us with a nice city tour.  San Antonio is a beautiful city and photographically captivating for night time picture.  If you click on the bridge pictures and look hard you can see a few of the bats coming out from between the bottom supports of the bridge. 

Retuning home around 10:30pm we all went straight to bed after another magnificent day.

God Bless all the little Bats in our lives who keep them insects and bugs under control.  And bless all my friends who are learning about these wondrous creatures.
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bonnwl6 on

Nice pictures and comentary. You are amazing in the way your remember the facts of each area you visit. This is going to make a great book, not just for the memories but for a wealth of information.Can't wait to read about the rest of your adventures. Will be following you closely. Praying for a safe and happy trip. Big hugs, lots of encouragement and many thoughts of great times go with you.

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