Birds and Bats in Austin

We saw more than just wildflowers in Austin. I also had time to go birding and then Monday evening we all went to see Austin’s famous bat colony.

Monday morning Gary had to go back for one more day of work, so I looked on eBird to find any local birding hotspots. Turns out there are two city parks nearby and one of them was a really nice little place called Charro Ranch Park. It was amazingly well kept up, which I learned later from Helen, was due to the fact that there are many local folks interested in becoming a Master Gardener and that requires 50 hours of volunteer service. I wandered around the paths, but saw the most birds just sitting in the blind near the well-stocked birdfeeders.  I actually got a lifer–Black-crested Titmouse (bringing my total to 400), but my “best” bird was a striking male Summer Tanager, neither of which I was able to photograph.  I did get a shot of a male Lesser Goldfinch.   Monday afternoon I spent a shorter time at the second park and saw just a few more species.

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You’ve heard of the famous urban colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats?  We went on a bat cruise Monday evening to get up fairly close and personal to them.

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First we went down stream to see the sights–old bridges and the Austin skyline.

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As dusk approached we went under the Congress Avenue bridge and looked up to see other tourists waiting for the bat exodus–750,000 tiny Mexican Free-tailed bats who sleep all day inside the bridge crevices and then depart at dusk to eat the mosquitoes of Austin.DSC00154

As the clock struck 8:20pm the bats started pouring out and the boat got right under the bridge.   The drips of bat guano smelled like “warm corn tortillas” and our pontoon captain claimed it was good luck to catch a drop.  The captain used a red light to view them, but my camera wasn’t good enough to work in the red light.  If you click on the last photo you might barely see the swirl of bats as the move out from the bridge.  Another thing to check off my bucket list.

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One Response to “Birds and Bats in Austin”

  1. Mary Says:

    Very  interesting.  I couldn’t see any bats but that was a fun trip you had.  I have cousins who live in Austin.  I will talk to him about this.

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