An overnight or two in the town of Mason, gives visitors an opportunity to explore a very pretty countryside. Reserve a spot on an interpretive tour of the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve between May and mid-October and witness the nightly bat emergence from one of the largest bat nurseries in the country. The drive to the preserve, located approximately seventeen miles south of Mason, can be as memorable as the bat flight. The route snakes through prime Hill Country habitat before crossing the James along a natural limestone roadbed typically under at least a foot of water.
The bat cave, a Nature Conservancy Preserve, provides a home for approximately four million pregnant female Mexican free-tailed bats from May through September. Around June and July, the bats give birth to a single pup, increasing the cave’s population considerably. The young pups are able to fly at around five weeks old but remain with their mothers until the entire population returns to Mexico in October. The summer bat population, a vital part of the region’s ecology, emerges from the cave nightly around dusk to feed on flying insects. The sight is a remarkable phenomenon of nature and definitely one for the bucket list.