I only recently have come to know and love Austin, Texas. Many have told me the likening the city has to my hometown, Portland, namely it’s love of the B’s: beers, beards, bikes, bridges, and, well, tattoos. In addition to these B’s (and one T), there are bats! Similar to Portland’s tradition with the Vaux Swifts, Austin has 2.5-3 million bats that call the S. Congress Bridge home from March to late September. During my trip
to SXSW, I had the opportunity to see these bats live and in action.
My local Austin friend, Katie, was kind enough to invite me along a Bat Watching excursion with Capital Cruise. Complete with a pre-show tour of the river, our guide pointed out famous landmarks and buildings on the Austin skyline, and ended with understanding the bats flight patterns. There are scouts that leave the nest early and scan the area to make sure few predators are around, then report back when it’s safe to travel. From there, droves of bats leave in batches, taking nearly 3 hours to evacuate the bridge. They’re quite fascinating to watch, even if you’re squeamish about the flying critters. The tour is worthy of a stop over when you have the opportunity, or pack up an evening snack and enjoy the view from the bridge or the grassy area below.