Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo realizes that he double-posted this week about rather morbid topics, so how about something a bit more light-hearted?

Yesterday, as it turns out, was National Bat Appreciation Day.  According to the linked site, a few fun facts:

  • Some species of bats can live up to 40 years.
  • There are over 1,200 known species of bats.
  • The United States is home to an estimated 48 species of bats.
  • North America’s largest urban bat colony is found on the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. It is home to an estimated 1,500,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats. This colony of bats eats approximately 10,000 to 30,000 lbs of insects each night.  It is estimated 100,000 tourists visit the bridge annually to watch the bats leave the roost at twilight.
  • Three U.S. states have an official state bat. Texas and Oklahoma have named the Mexican Free-Tailed bat their state bat, and Virginia has dubbed the Virginia Big-Eared bat their state bat.

I actually knew about the famous Congress Avenue Bridge colony because it occasionally made the papers in the San Antonio of my misspent yoot.  I did not know that the Great Commonwealth of Virginny has a designated state bat. Go figure.

Ol’ Robbo actually is quite fond of bats. Once, in said misspent yoot, I recall going along with my high school girlfriend and her parents on a Sierra Club outing to some caves out in the desert southwest of San Antonio.  As evening began to gather, bats (I have no idea what sort, but prob’ly Mexican Free-Tails) started to emerge.  Quickly, a long, black ribbon formed up and gradually snaked its way to the horizon.  I forget how many jillion bats were supposed to live in this colony, but it was a very large number.  They took at least an hour or more to empty themselves out of the cave.  Most impressive.  (As was the stench of guano coming up out of the cave’s mouth.)

I’m also reminded of the time my family and I went to see a production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at the concert hall downtown.  That same evening, Ozzie Osborne was playing the arena next door.  (And by the way, there was common parking for both events.  I leave the compare and contrast audience spectacle to your imagination.)  At some point during the graveyard scene in Act 2 of Don G, a bat started flying about the concert hall stage.  Not only did it heighten the creepy effect of the Statue of the Commendatore accepting the Don’s invitation to dinner, there were also muted whispers about the one that got away from Ozzie.

More recently, Ol’ Robbo loves to sit out on the Port Swiller Manor porch in the evening and watch the local bats flittering around the yard, presumably eating lots of nasty bugs.  (I haven’t seen one yet this year due to the very late arrival of spring, but expect to very soon.  Again, I’ve no idea what species they are. Perhaps Big-Ears?)  Indeed, I’ve toyed off and on for some time with the idea of putting up a bat house – perhaps under the porch – just to encourage more of them to flitter round here for my enjoyment.

In fact, the only thing that gives me pause is the fact that Mrs. Robbo hates bats, apparently as the result of an invasion by them of her home in Connecticut when she was a little gel.  In any event, she can’t stand ’em, and hates it even when I point them out on the other side of the porch screen.  (I’m not saying I won’t eventually put up a bat house, but I sure as heck won’t tell the Missus about it…..)

One time, many years ago now, a bat somehow got into our bedroom. (I believe it must have come down the chimney and then made its way upstairs.)  You can imagine what Mrs. R’s reaction was to that.  Me? I simply closed the bedroom door to box it in, opened all the windows, and with the aid of a tennis racquet eventually, ah, persuaded it to leave.  Easy-peasy, and Ol’ Robbo was the Hero of the Day.

(I don’t say this to brag.  If it had been a snake, I’d have been the one freaking out.)

Anyhoo, here’s a glass to our flying mammalian friends!

UPDATE:  Nope, whatever I’m looking at is not a Virginia Big-Eared bat.  According to Wiki, they’re very rare and live way down in the southwestern part of the Commonwealth, as well as in West Virginia and Kentucky.