Saturday afternoon (11/13), Bruce and I headed over to the Lubee Bat Conservancy north of Gainesville for their annual festival, along the way exploring the numerous, mostly dirt, back roads in the vicinity of Monteocha. This is the one day of the year that Lubee’s facilities are open to the general public and I had been meaning to see the place for some time now. The tours were self-guided and led through large, outdoor cages containing the bats. The Conservancy is dedicated to the conservation of fruit bats. It seems odd to me to locate a fruit bat center in Florida because our native bats are all insectivorous, but I guess fruit bats cannot become established here if there is an accidental release. Unfortunately, the dense fencing between the bats and my camera denied photography, but their website contains plenty of pics: (http://www.batconservancy.org/).
I did buy a bat at the festival. How could I not? After all, this is a bat place and I collect toy bats for decorations in my home. Mostly they are plastic Halloween horror decorations, but several are cute plush toys, some of which are hand puppets. Saturday’s find was a cotton print stuffed bat. Ordinarily I like a demure bat, almost invisible, like a genuine chiropteran cruising overhead after dusk. Perhaps that’s just what I’m used to, because toy bats are typically manufactured in black and brown, and it is hard to find them more colorful. The only prior exception is the white, pink and green banana leaf bat ensemble hanging in my living room, but now this fiery little devil gets added:
The Occasional Bat (http://www.theoccasionalbat.com/) produces two sizes of these bats with a variety of print patterns. The more I look at this thing, the more I want to get another, and another. In fact, I think I will get one for the raffle at the annual Florida Cave Cavort.
After that, we went to the bicycling trailhead at San Felasco Hammock State Park, pedaling over to the NE slope of Sanchez Prairie and walking from there. Bruce had never been to the Blue’s Creek swallets from the north, so I retraced a previous trip for his benefit. Not having any other goals and the daylight fading, we covered ground quickly. In fact, we returned to the trailhead in a round trip of only 2:16 hrs (covering a total of 8.1 miles), implying that an early start could place explorers in the heart of the east side of Sanchez Prairie in a little over an hour of biking and hiking. That would provide up to 5 or 6 hours of discovery time where it is most involved to reach and where I have spent the least amount of time. I’ll be back there soon.