Oklahoma sports many hot sites for summer fun

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Oklahoma sports many hot sites for summer fun

Postby Wayne Harrison » May 29, 2006 4:27 pm

The Norman Transcript

CNHI News Service

For many kids about to start summer vacation, the elation of having all that free time can evaporate quickly until all that's left are two ominous, nearly inevitable words:

"I'm bored."

Adults without children also can go batty while trying to find summer fun in Oklahoma. Actually, that's a pretty good idea.

The Selman Bat Cave in Northwest Oklahoma, a site where countless Mexican free-tailed bats take flight each year, is among the state's most remarkable summer destinations.

Millions of migratory bats practically darken the twilight sky on summer evenings when they fly out of their roost.

"It's amazing, and I've been looking at them for over 30 years," said Bill Caire, a University of Central Oklahoma biology professor. "I continue to take students up there and they are just amazed. ... I don't think you can ever see so much life in one spot."

Caire, who also directs the Selman Living Laboratory next to the Selman Bat Cave, helped Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, with a bill this year that led to the Mexican free-tailed bat becoming the state's official flying mammal.

The same species fly in Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the professor said, but Selman visitors "are impressed because they get a fairly close look at them."

The Mexican free-tailed is one of 22 bat species found at least part of the year in Oklahoma, according to Wildlife Conservation. Mexican free-tailed bats each year fly about 1,400 miles north from Mexico to the Selman cave, where they give birth and raise their young. The bats normally arrive in May and fly back to Mexico in or near October, depending on weather conditions, but the public is allowed near the cave only in July.

During their stay at Selman, the bats eat about 22,000 pounds of mosquitoes, moths and beetles per evening. In all, Caire said, there are five to seven maternity caves in Oklahoma for Mexican free-tails.

During 12 evenings in July, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation invites the public to the area between Freedom and Mooreland, near Alabaster Caverns State Park. Up to 75 people per evening bus from the state park to an area near the cave.

Participants take a short prairie nature hike to the bat viewing area, and there are activities for children along the way. They keep watch as the sun sets until millions of bats fly overhead.

Friday and Saturday visitors can stay longer to look beyond the bats and to the heavens at UCO's Selman Living Laboratory Observatory.

"It's really a neat combination," Caire said. "You can see the bats and then come see the stars."

Registration for a Selman bat watch began Friday and is scheduled to continue through June 26, though early action is recommended. Melynda Hickman of Wildlife Conservation said the program is "extremely popular and it usually sells out.

"There are those who might have seen one bat in their lifetime, but they're just dumbstruck by the whole sight of it all there," she said.

To register, contact Hickman by telephone at 405-424-0099 or e-mail at mhickman@zoo.odwc.state.ok.us.

http://www.normantranscript.com/localne ... ndarystory
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Wayne Harrison
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Postby kvart » May 29, 2006 5:17 pm

In all, Caire said, there are five to seven maternity caves in Oklahoma for Mexican free-tails.

..and one of those would be the Nescatunga/Vickery Bat Cave in the Glass/Gloss Mountains of NW Ok. I am curious if Selman Bat Cave is also a gypsum cave as is Nescatunga.

I was fortunate to witness the bat flight from Vickery Bat Cave a few years back...all 4 million of them!

To read about my episode, go here:


It is quite long so pour another cup or pop another top, light up and enjoy!
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