Mike Collins and Ernie Lundlius are the PIs for the dig in Hall’s Cave. There are three of us who have volunteered to excavate the cave. A PhD candidate Toomey is trying to establish the climate chronology for the Edwards plateau for his dissertation work.
WOW! The blast of bat urine hits the moment one nears the cave.
The Cave is huge and is home to 250,000 bachelor bats they tell us. A bachelor colony, not that common they say. We wear masks but that doesn’t help with the overwhelming odor. The bats, we are told, are at the back of the cave and shouldn’t bother us, as we will be working just inside the entrance. Swallows live at the front of the cave along the walls. Will we bother them? No one answers.
We dig and over the days we get used to the aroma and toss the masks. Toomey hauls out the bags of dirt that we dig. He coughs all the time.
We sit outside the cave entrance at dusk and watch the swallows fight their way in as the quarter million bats fight their way out. It is a swirling, noisy vortex that takes over an hour for each to find their way in or out. It is a repeat each morning too and they are our alarm clocks!
The property owners have never seen the bats leave the cave so we invite them to a camp dinner and promise them a surprise. The Mrs. brings us the best peach cobbler I have ever had in my life. After dinner we sit on the Cave’s outside ledges and watch in awe of the swallow/bat spectacle. The owners shake their heads and say, “We didn’t know.”
Several days after our dinner and surprise for the owners, I wandered to the back of the cave. My lordy! All those bachelors were having babies!