freetail bat

Congress Avenue Bridge over the Colorado River, Austin, Texas. 2017.

This bridge is home to a seasonal maternity colony of Mexican Freetail Bats that numbers between 500,000 and 1.5 million depending on the time of year. Every evening at dusk the colony flies out to hunt the night sky while hundreds of visitors line the viewing areas nearby to watch. 

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I shot these at Old Tunnel State Park near Fredericksburg, TX. This is the smallest State Park,  acquired in 1991 for the express purpose of managing and protecting a Mexican Freetail Bat population of 2-3 million bats. I have visited other bat emergence sights in the state but this, for me, was the most impressive.  The emergence lasts about 18-20 minutes. They have a bleacher set up right beside the gully where the bats emerge and they are literally within arms reach as they come out of the abandoned railroad tunnel.  You can feel the air move from the beating of their wings and I now know what bats smell like. :) A most awesome experience…. For the not so adventurous, there are other viewing areas behind and above the action, still good views.