Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Texas Bridge Bats

I've been fascinated with bats for a long time.  I've gone down to Town Lake to see the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue Bridge. I've been to the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area and seen the bats emerge a number of times.

If I'm on I-35 in Pflugerville or Round Rock at dusk, I've seen bats emerge from the Wells Branch Bridge, the Howard Lane Bridge, and the McNeil Bridge.

I've gone out a couple of times to try to get some good bat photos. The first time I tried, I couldn't get the right angle for the shot I visualized - the silhouettes of the bats against a colorful sunset sky.  I've been helping with the bat interpretation at the McNeil Bridge, but if I'm talking to people, I'm unlikely to be taking time to photograph.

But Friday night things came together, the clouds in the eastern sky took on a pinkish hue, the bats were a little later than normal coming out, and another picture that I had visualized looked promising.  When the bats emerge from the bridge, they fly to the east to forage over the agricultural fields and pastures in eastern Williamson County.  They make beautiful patterns in the sky as they disperse.  I wanted to capture those beautiful and actually mathematical patterns.

It takes over several hour for the 1.8 million bats to leave their roosts.   But it is an amazing spectacle.
It is amazing to me how the flow of bats weaves itself across the sky, at times almost moving as though there is a common intelligence guiding the patterns. 


Late summer is a good time to view the bats because this year's pups have joined the flow.  

My article about the free-tailed bats is in this week's Hutto News.

Henry has a new app for his phone, Radarscope.  He came into my office near sunset asking what time the bats come out.  It turns out that you can see the images on the radar from this app that show the density of the bats emerging from a number of places around us in Central Texas.  Check out his blog and see the video he made of the radar images this evening.

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