Batting Lessons

With just a little more than a week away to Halloween, what could be more appropriate than taking a class about bats? Not the wooden ones. The flying ones. A couple of nights ago, I drove to Mather Field, destination; Splash Education Center at Mather Field. It is one of many buildings at Mather Field that once served the Air Force and its military community. Over 50 of us came to learn about bats at a presentation titled "Going Batty: The facts about bats." My only experience with them, back in the early 60′s in Prescott, AZ, was throwing rocks toward the bats so we could watch them dive at them using their sonar. That must’ve been more fun than it sounds because I’ve got a good visual of it in my brain. For a 10 year old it was a blast! And of course I was a big fan of those black and white movies of Dracula, the vampire. Corky Quirk, of NorCalBats, a bat rescue and rehabilitation center hooked us into her enthusiasm about the flying rat-looking things! Here’s some of the highlights of what she talked about: There’s lots of different kinds of bats and they aren’t are the bad guys like they are depicted in the media. It appears bats may have evolved on this continent prior to the separation of […]

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Local prof. discusses white nose syndrome among bats

  A deadly fungus that has killed about a million bats on the east coast, known as white nose syndrome, has local biologists worried because it’s spreading westward. They’re uncertain, however, whether the fungus, which relies on cold temperatures, will mutate into something that can survive warmer Sacramento-like winters, explained Winston Lancaster, an associate professor of biological sciences at Sacramento State University who has been studying bats since the 1980s. “What’s the greater likelihood is that it will be different. We just don’t know what to expect,” Lancaster said. “So there is good reason to believe that in a drier climate and in an open sort of roost, like we have in bridges here, it may not ever be established.” But biological organisms adapt. So the question, Lancaster said, is whether the fungus will still have the same pathogenic effect on these animals. “Maybe, maybe not,” he said. Found in one cave in New York, white nose syndrome has resulted in the death of 95 percent of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) population and has killed some bats from other species as well, Lancaster said. He added that it’s thought that the fungus was brought to the United States in 2006 from Europe by the shoes or clothes of tourists. More recently, scientists have seen it move down the Appalachian Mountains and west to […]

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Local Bat Rescue Educates in Old Sacramento

Parents looked closely and children’s eyes widened as Northern California Bats’ founder Corky Quirk used two live bats to educate in Old Sacramento Saturday. Quirk brought a Mexican Free-Tailed bat and Big Brown bat to Trail Mix, a store selling outdoor merchandise and projects for children and adults. About 40 children, parents and adults attended the event, and about 20 more trickled in after to see the bats. "It went really well with standing room only," Quirk said. "People were really quiet, which really surprised me, but they stayed a long time, which says something to me." Quirk said she wanted to help people understand the importance of bats, what they do for the environment and dispel fears and myths. "My favorite part was the Big Brown bat," said Allison Barlow, 7. "I like the color of the fur on top." Sacramento residents are most likely to come in contact with the Free-Tailed bat. A large colony lives under the Yolo causeway, Quirk said. "They’ll eat a variety of insects but their favorite insects are moths," Quirk said. "They’re really important for our crops, and we have an awful lot of farmland around here, so that’s a big job." "Everybody liked it when the bats were eating," store owner Mike Barlow said. "There were lots of oohs and aahs. Everyone got to see the bats […]

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Get batty Saturday

Things will get a little batty in Old Sacramento Saturday when Trail Mix and a wildlife rescue group team up to educate people about bats. Corky Quirk, founder of Northern California Bats, will bring live, wild bats to help dispel some of the myths about these nocturnal creatures. She will also teach people about the benefits and habits of the mysterious winged mammals in a presentation from 1-3 p.m. at Trail Mix, a store selling outdoor merchandise for kids and parents at 116B I St., across from the California State Railroad Museum. Thousands of bats roost in the nooks and crannies of the city. In summer, a colony of 150,000 to 200,000 bats live under the Yolo Causeway and may be seen flying into the night sky. California is home to 24 species of bats. Many winter in other countries. Quirk rehabilitates injured and orphaned bats. She will bring two of those most commonly found in the Sacramento Valley: the Brazilian or "Mexican" Free-Tailed bat, which has a 12-inch to 14-inch wingspan, and a Big Brown bat, which has a 13- to 16-inch wingspan and is often seen flying around city lights. "The one people in Sacramento are most likely to come in contact with are Mexican Free-Tailed bats," Quirk said. "They live all over Old Sacramento in all those old buildings." The Free-Tailed bat […]

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River Cats get Spayed

 The first two innings of Wednesday morning’s River Cats 9-7 roller coaster loss to the Tacoma Raniers were very uneventful.  The only man to reach base was Matt Watson, and he did so on a walk.    Everyone else from either team who stepped to the plate was set down with alacrity. There was no sign of the slugfest to come.               Four pop outs, two fly outs, a couple ground outs, three K’s and a line out.  The innings flew by.  By 11:50, a mere 15 minutes into the game, it was 22.22 percent over.  If they’d kept up that pace, they may have set some kind of record.               The first two outs of the top of the third came nearly as quickly.  I was beginning to speculate as to the length of the shortest game in professional baseball history  and what to do with the rest of my afternoon. It turns out the record was never in jeopardy.  On September 28, 1918, the New York Giants beat the Philidelphia Phillies, 6 to 1, in 51 minutes.                Eziequiel Carrerra ended my reverie when he crushed a double to center field.  The next batter, Ramon Vazquez, hit the ball sharply to the left of first basemen Chris Carter, who gave a halfhearted swipe at the ball before watching it  roll into the […]

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