September 12, 2016, my last day in Austin and I relaxed and got to the Congress Avenue bridge in the evening, also known as the Bat Bridge.
Congress Avenue Bridge
I got to the bridge early because I heard lots of people come to view the bats.
Slowly people began to arrive both on the bridge and below on the water.
Ok … I stole the following from the Bat Conservatory website in Austin.
Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they’re also making our world a better place to live.
When engineers reconstructed the Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated.
The Austin bats eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests.
As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America. With up to 1.5 million bats spiraling into the summer skies, Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere.
Austin’s bridge bats are Mexican free-tailed bats. They migrate each spring from central Mexico to various roosting sites throughout the southwestern U.S. Most of the colony is female, and in early June each one gives birth to a single baby bat, called a pup.
Despite the popularity of the bridge bats in Austin, bats are still among the world’s least appreciated and most endangered animals. Like other wildlife, bats suffer from habitat loss and environmental pollution, and now, the added mortality from White-nose syndrome and wind turbines, but persecution from humans remains a primary cause of their decline.
As the sun set the bats began to appear. It wasn’t what I expected though. I thought they would fly out into the sunset. Instead they circled around the bridge in a growing state of frenzy. Periodically a few would fly off.
I person there said the react differently all the time and you are never quite sure how they will exit. Sometimes they do fly off into the sunset.
The result was all I could get for a picture is this.
I really cool experience though.
Have I told you I love Austin! So much to do.