I should refer to the Congress Avenue Bridge as the Ann Richards Congress Ave Bridge. But if I named it properly here, it wouldn’t fit into my alphabetical listings, so I’m using local vernacular.
Most people considering coming to Austin have heard of this bridge and its tie to the migration of the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. You don’t have to like bats to watch them fly out from under the bridge. How often can you be able to say,
“I stood in the middle of 1.6 million bats”? It’s an amazing sight.
At first, gathering on the bridge seems odd. Rush-hour is still going on all around. People are on their way home. Soon, you’re listening to everyone around you and discover that everyone is from somewhere else, and everyone is there to see the bats. Before you know it, you’re making friends and acquaintances that will make your stories about your Austin trip that much more fun.
If you’re not careful, you can miss the first few thousand bats emerging from under the bridge. They are tiny, maybe the size of your palm, but wait. Before the sun sets, you’ll see thick clouds swooping, swirling, and passing you as they fly off in search of dinner. About that time, you too will go in search of dinner.
Word of warning. The first time I went to the bridge, I stood leaning against the rail waiting as a group of five businessmen in ties came to stand near me. They were in town for a conference. Evidently, they conference offered libations to aid the sales pitches and demonstrations over the afternoon. As I stood amazed at the thick cloud of bats swirling in front of me, I heard one man proclaim, “This is wrong! There’s not a single bat out here.” (His language was mixed with expletives I decided against reproducing here.)
I turned to look at the men and point out the surrounding bats us. At that moment, the man who had been complaining stomped his foot. “I’m going inside. Too many damned mosquitos.”
All I could do was laugh and enjoy the bat show. Yes, they’re fast and small, but they’re not mosquitoes – not anywhere near that small. Considering holding off on the libations until after your dinner.