You usually have to sign up to go out to the Bracken Bat Cave to see the world's largest bat colony leave the confines of their cave home for the night, but now you can just pull up a website.
The Bracken "Bat Cam" is now live -- though there isn't much to see early in the day -- and the bats begin their exodus at about 7:30 p.m.
The colony in the Bracken Bat Cave is the largest in the world at 10 million bats, which is about seven times the size of the largest urban bat colony in the world at the Congress Street bridge in Austin, which has about 1.5 million bats.
Ashley Driskill from Bat Conservation International said the video feed doesn't match the experience of seeing them fly out in person, but it is a good way for them to share the experience with a wider audience, especially with the debate about a proposed subdivision near the bat colony.
The Bracken Bat Cave has been at the center of a debate about the proposed Crescent Hills subdivision, a plan presented by Galo Properties with close to 4,000 homes that would be located just south of the bat cave, directly in the flying path of the bats.
BCI is continuing to talk to Galo and city leaders about different options in the matter, one of which is the possibility of purchasing the land in question with private/public funds to expand the preserve land.
Driskill said the Crescent Hills development didn't directly spark them to put up the bat cam -- people have been requesting one for a while -- but it did give the project a sense of urgency.
The 2013 season is wrapping up for this year -- the last in-person public tour to see the emergence is Sept. 20 -- but the next season of tours will start taking reservations in January or February of next year. The season runs from about late May to mid September.
- Watch the Bracken Bat Cam at: batcon.org/brackenbatcam