LAST  NIGHT’S FLIGHT:  6:33 pm – Scouts at 6:26 ~60k may be overwintering this year
The majority of the bats at Congress, UT, and Dittmar may have migrated.
High winds from N at 20 mph and Dew Point of 39F on 18 Nov may have finally triggered them to go.
For late arriving migrants and overwintering bats:
Viewing would be good under lights and after dark from boats
Too dark to see streams of bats heading down the river from the top of the bridge.
Better close-up view at the Bat Viewing Area, under the south side of the bridge.
Stand under the shadow of the bridge on the south side and use the street lights to watch bats after dark.
Better for families with children and / or pets underneath bridge (no traffic worries)
Top of bridge better for watching streams of bats heading downriver,
but only if flights are more than 30 minutes before dark, and they have not been, recently.
THIS NEXT FEW DAYS DARKNESS WILL FALL ~ 6:03 pm – earlier if cloudy
Best viewing is from mid-March to mid-May & also from late July through September
Bat flights from mid-May through mid-July are usually after dark

Here are Last Week’s Congress Flight Times from our Radar Data Program
And here’s a play by play for the long, drawn-out saga of the Fall Migration 2017

DAY DATE FLIGHT TIME COMMENTS
Sunday  19 Nov 2017  6:13 pm  Maybe 92k bats stayed but more may leave tonight on second night of major cold front
Monday
Tuesday  14 Nov 2017  none  No flight even though a warm evening with S winds at 6 mph, dew point 62, no threatening weather
Wednesday  15 Nov 2017  7:21 pm  Very late flight 14 miles to SE on E winds at 6 mph
Thursday  16 Nov 2017  7:37 pm  Very late flight 6 miles to NE on E winds at 6 mph
Friday  17 Nov 2017  none  No flight, gusty winds to 20 mph rushing up to meet approaching cold front.  Hunkered down or gone?
Saturday  18 Nov 2017  6:45 pm  Lots of Austin bats seem to be migrating south tonight. ~560k from UT, Congress, Dittmar headed south on winds from N at 20 mph, Dew Point of 39 degrees F.

During the season (Apr-Sep) please visit us at the Bat Viewing Area under the South side of Congress Avenue Bridge.
We developed the Information Program at the bridge and continue to provide information to the tourists twice weekly.  We love meeting people from all over the world as they come to witness this natural wonder in the heart of our city.

austin bat talks presentations outreach education live bats

 

AUSTIN’S ICONIC CONGRESS AVENUE BRIDGE BATS
Bridge Viewing Etiquette
Be Kind, Don’t Shine bright lights
And keep drones at a distance, don’t get down in the stream of bats!

World famous attraction, soon to be subject to intense development pressure
of the South Central Waterfront
Illustrative Buildout Rendering of the City’s SCW Master Plan is colored area below
This Master Plan includes some nice ideas for viewing the bats, but the development itself could have a negative effect on the colony.
How can we help mitigate the effect of all this additional development?
Make the SCW a Dark Skies District
A synopsis of our suggestions follows with substantiating arguments below the renderings

1- Control lighting around the bridge
2- Control lighting along the south shoreline which serves as the bat’s commuting corridor
3- Require bat-compatible building standards in the SCW to minimize bat human conflict
4- Make Bat Conservation International a stakeholder in any development application and approval process
5- Incorporate a BCI Bat Education Center in the park
6- Use park maintenance policies that are sensitive to the bat’s flight path
7- Extend the downtown panhandling ban to the SCW District
8- Limit facility lease agreements in the immediate vicinity of the bridge to quiet daytime events
9- Limit the increasing violence of Fourth of July fireworks at Auditorium Shores – No Howitzers!

2016-05-02_14-07-32

Bat Observation Park

There is a trend in the state legislature to limit local control that may play out as regards the Uber and Lyft  Prop. 1 failure.  Business interests have been successful in influencing the passing of legislation, that no local ordinances can be more restrictive than state laws governing similar circumstances.  Local control has been denied to Denton as regards fracking within city limits and could come into play here in relation to Austin’s tree ordinance and other local efforts to maintain quality of life.  The legislature is likely to address state-wide ride-hailing legislation in January.  With all of that in mind, here’s why we think these issues are reasonable and necessary to preserving the iconic bat bridge that helps give Austin it’s Sense of Place.

1- Control lighting around the bridge
Increased lighting levels at the bridge could adversely affect the colony by interruption of circadian rhythms.  Dark Sky initiatives in the area around the bridge and avoiding light trespass on the roosts would ensure that the bats know the proper time to emerge to hunt.  The building closest to the bridge is envisioned to be an office tower.  This is preferable to residential use (with accompanying light at night and viewing balconies) but should also require lighting controls such as timers or electronically tintable glass in order to prevent increases in ambient light at night so close to the bridge.

2- Control lighting along the south shoreline which serves as the bat’s commuting corridor
The bats seem to use the riparian zone along the south edge of the river as a commuting corridor as they leave to forage.  Their hugging of the trees could partly be due to the bend in the river just past the Statesman property, but it could also be that there is some other benefit to hugging that tree line.  These trees have grown taller over the 34 years the bats have been roosting at the bridge and many people remember the views were better when the trees were smaller and wish they could be removed or selectively pruned to enhance the view of the bats.  However, with the increased development, the trees may become more important to block the lights from the buildings and preserve to dark commuting corridor used by the bats to come and go from the city, so as not to become disoriented by the city lights.  Again Dark Sky initiatives as pertains to light fixtures used to illuminate the new parkland could be critical.

3- Require bat-compatible building standards in the SCW to minimize bat human conflict
Firms choosing to develop in the flight path of 1.5 million bats should be required to develop plans that do not allow entry of bats into the voids between the exterior envelope and the interior living or working space of the buildings.  This increases the possibility of human/bat conflict and often leads to expensive bat exclusions.  Such exclusions thus become a Life-Cycle Cost of the building which is being handed down to the future owners and operators of the buildings and lead to headline of “bat infestations” when in reality it is a combination of lack of proper planning details and poor execution by the builders.  Developers should be required to pay for these Life-Cycle Costs up front by paying for drawing bat-proof building details and paying the contractors enough to properly carry out the design intent. This has not been the case in many of the latest high-rises along the flight path of the bats and needs to be required in the SCW district.

4- Make Bat Conservation International a stakeholder in any development application and approval process
This is the best strategy to mitigate the effects of the SCW development on Austin’s iconic bat bridge.

5- Incorporate a BCI Bat Education Center in the park
The original Bat Conservation Center was established by BCI, then-governer Ann Richards, and the Austin American-Statesman in 1993 to shed light on the bat’s contribution to a healthy environment in the city of Austin.  The need still exists, all these years later, for an enclosed, secured, storage facility for specimens, brochures, posters, etc., with an overhang and apron with doors that open to deploy tables and literature as volunteers and visitors arrive for the emergence.  A video screen with thermal or night vision capabilities for bats emerging after dark would greatly enhance visitor’s experience during summer months of late emergences.

6- Park maintenance that is sensitive to the bat’s flight path
Flexibility is needed to trim tall shrubby vegetation close to the bridge that could impede emergences and allow input on selective tree clearing during development.

7- Extend the downtown panhandling ban to the SCW District
Any large, regular crowd of people attracts attention from opportunists who harass a captive audience into giving them donationsExtending the panhandling ban would help eliminate the pervasive fear-based soliciting from the bridge area.

8- Limit facility lease agreements in the immediate vicinity of the bridge to quiet daytime events
Leasing of the Statesman lot for events with multiple loud bands (such as Bat Fest!) has a negative effect on the bats.  Emergences are down for many days after such events.  Recent events have used the viewing area for portable toilets and rains during events have turned the viewing area into a mudhole.

9- Limit the increasing violence of Fourth of July fireworks at Auditorium Shores – No Howitzers!
Every year the fireworks display at Auditorium Shores get bigger and louder.  Last year’s event included military-style Howitzers whose exploding shells caused bat emergences to be almost non-existent for many days after the event.

 

And now,a semi-tongue-in-cheek Onion-flavored rant by one of the BCI bridge docents:

Notice!

Due to public demand, we are hereby announcing that we have reset the Congress Avenue Bridge Bat Wake-up Call to 7 pm.
Bat Emergence Performances will now occur precisely at 7:15 pm and again at 8:15 pm,

This rescheduling has been enacted to assuage public rancor over the bats personally offending visitors by not performing in a timely manner.  In addition, this seems to have been occurring regardless of the distances traveled by visitors to view the performance.

However, after negotiations held early this week, the bats have agreed that it’s well worth it to put off giving birth and to sacrifice their maternity leave, in order to provide for a more family-friendly viewing experience for humans.
So please help us get the word out about the new early evening Congress Avenue Bridge schedule.  Please note, however, that it is subject to change as soon as visitors pay for parking and get their families comfortably seated on blankets on the lawn.

In fact, as part of the negotiations, the bats have reserved the right to wait until all the cruise ships, tuna boats, paddle boards, water bicycles, paddle boards, kayakes, canoes, drones, helicopters, red lights, white lights, flash photographers, movie crews, and well …. people have gone away before they emerge.

While they admit that humans can be beneficial in that they scare away hawks, falcons, owls, and other predators, they are willing to take their chances and move to  other roosts if the above-mentioned shenanigans get even worse.