There is a surprising tourist attraction in Austin, and hundreds of people partake every day. They go to a bridge, during the hot summer months, and wait in the sun. They wait for an unpredictable and inconsistent natural occurrence — the viewing of the bats.
Yes, the Congress Avenue Bridge, in the middle of downtown, is home to a large colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats. Some say it’s the largest urban bat colony in the world. A big part of the entertainment of my recent river cruise was to get a unique vantage point for the bat viewing. Sometime around sunset, the colony would take flight, forming an almost smoke-like trail from underneath the bridge.
I was comfortably downstairs eyeing the bat bridge as we passed under, but happen to frame it through the window. You can see the already thickening crowds. This was still early in the evening, and the boat traveled slowly east before coming back around for the actual bat flight. These early onlookers had some waiting to do. About an hour wait, according to the experts, before the start of the event.
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