Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Batty for bats!

From under a bridge in Houston, Texas:

More info on these creatures that live under a bridge, see:

Waugh Drive Bat Colony

There is something amazing going on underneath the Waugh Drive Bridge near Buffalo Bayou.
About 250,000 of Houston’s best-kept secrets have been quietly residing within the crevices of Waugh Drive Bridge for a number of years.  “The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony” consists of Mexican free-tailed bats that emerge nightly to stretch their wings and feed on area insects. HPARD has partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and enthusiastic area volunteers to begin counting and recording the activities of the Bat Colony.
Mexican BatUnlike other Texas bat colonies that opt for warmer climates by migrating southward during winter months, The Waugh Bridge Bat Colony remains in Houston throughout the year.  As far as we know, this is the only bridge in Texas that has such a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that reside all year, even through the winter months.  The huge majority of bats at other bridges migrate to Mexico for the winter.
Bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Colony in Austin (population 1.5 million), for example, begin migrating south to Mexico in the fall months, ending the twilight emergences until the following spring.
Bats play key roles in keeping a wide variety of insect populations in balance. In the U.S., brown bats often eat mosquitoes and can catch up to 1,200 tiny insects in an hour.  Large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats eat tons of pests weekly.
In 2006 a bat observation deck was installed for your convenience. If you would like to observe the Waugh Drive Bridge Bat Colony, the following tips will help you have a safe, fun-filled, batty viewing:

Free public parking is available at Spotts Park, located at 401 S. Heights Boulevard at Memorial Drive. The park is a short stroll across Buffalo Bayou from the observation deck along the Waugh Drive Bridge.
If you would like to volunteer and help observe and monitor the bats at Waugh Drive Bridge or other locations around Houston then become a Bat Team Member Volunteer!
Bat Links:

If you are in the area:

Bat Fest


12th Annual Bat Fest – August 20th, 2016

What will you see at Bat Fest this year? 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the bridge at dusk, 3 stages with live music, more than 75 arts & crafts vendors, delicious food and drinks, fun children’s activities, a bat costume contest and other bat activities.

Location: Congress Ave Bridge
Address: 100 South Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704

Cost: Admission $15.00 cash at the gate. Kids 8 and under free with an adult.

Want to be in the front row? Get a VIP ticket. VIP is $150 and includes access to VIP only designated areas featuring front row standing area at the main stage in the Austin American Statesman parking lot, also a front row area at the North Bridge stage, private restrooms, a tented backstage area with seating and tables, a voucher to be used at the official event merchandise booth for any event t-shirt available, reserved VIP parking in the nearby TXDOT lot, a private cash bar with the only mixed drinks available at the festival including 2 complimentary drink tickets* for any adult beverage served at the bar (adult beverages can be purchased after drink tickets are used), 1 food voucher for the backstage catering area, unlimited water and soda. *Must be 21 or older to consume beer, wine, or liquor in Texas.

Hours: 4pm to Midnight

About the Bats:
Because bats are wild animals, it is hard to predict exactly when the emergence will begin but the flight usually begins between 7:00 – 8:45 p.m. For current emergence times call 512-327-9721 EX16. The emergence can last up to ½ hour as 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats head out for their nightly flight.
Bat Costume Contest: Prize is $100 for Best Adult Costume and $100 for best childrens costume. Participants will be lined up on Stage, and the crowd will be asked to yell for the costume they like the best. Originality is encouraged.