Thursday, January 08, 2009

Monarch Grove Sanctuary

Sunday afternoon was a sunny day after a week or so of clouds. Typical of winter though. Monday was predicted to rain in the afternoon and definitely cloudy, so if we wanted to go out and do something nature-ish, Sunday was the day.

We saw the coolest thing ever!
Loads of Monarch Butterflies! They over-winter in milder climates and just south of us an 1/2 hour to an hour or so is one of their main locations.
A docent from Monarch Grove Sanctuary mentioned that there were about 4000 there that day. The volunteers - at least two of them - go out in the morning one day a week and count. I asked how they estimate, and they try to count one cluster and then extrapolate from that. I guess that's about as good a way as possible!
The two pics above are two different trees and give an overall view of the butterflies hanging out... literally ;)

They seemed to be hanging on the pines mostly, but above, they are hanging on moss. I like the shape they make when doing that. At this point, the sun was shining on the moss, so the butterflies started opening their wings, and a few were fluttering about. It was only about 50 degrees, so it was colder than they would have liked, and they pretty much stayed huddled up together.

This is an image of them with their wings still closed up. The sun had just started shining on them minutes before and probably wasn't going to say on them much more than a few minutes. To the naked eye, they really looked like dead leaves - but hanging from a pine... confusing if you know what pines are like and didn't know there were butterflies there.

While at Monarch Grove Sanctuary, we also spotted...
One Black-tailed Deer

One Red-shouldered Hawk (actually, I think I was the only one to see it)

One Yellow-rumped Warbler

At least one Townsend's Warbler... I'm not sure if this guy is the same as the one we saw a few minutes earlier and couldn't get in a picture.

And of course, the crows, gulls, and the lone Red-tailed Hawk I posted about on Monday.


Lynne said...

Can you see my mouth hanging open? That's SO COOL! I saw about 100 monarch's in a tree in a cemetery once and thought THAT was cool. I would love to see the numbers you saw. Gorgeous Red!

Neat other stuff too. :)

Anonymous said...

Lucky you to be there on a sunny day too! Great photos - Monarch groves are amazing places. That reminds me, I need to post my photos from when I visited Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz - it is the other major Monarch grove in the region.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Red, what a cool place! I'd better add it to my list of places to visit in March!
Did you happen to notice if any of the monarchs were tagged?

Red said...

I TOTALLY agree Lynne! SO COOL! I don't know about your cemetery monarchs, but I think that would have been cool too. Something poetic about that - AND it probably was a surprise. The ones at Pacific Grove weren't a surprise... but still amazing to see.

Thanks Adam! I agree... the weather was just perfect. If it was sunny AND warmer, they probably would have all flown off to neighborhood gardens to fatten up. As it was too cold to fly, they all hung around and I had clear views of them. Funny thing you mentioning Natural Bridges... just this morning as I was driving to work I sighed at the blue skies and sunshine thinking "why do I have to work? can't i just take a quick jaunt to Santa Cruz to see the butterflies there?" It's only a 1/2 hour drive from our house... but alas, I have work to finish today.

Ruthie... definitely! My mom's email didn't mention it, but Saturday is great too... I can probably rearrange my schedule for that Friday, but Saturday might even be better. Whatever your plans are though, I'll adjust :)

Oh, and I did notice a few were tagged. I can't read it in the photos they showed up in. Had I not been so excited, I might have had the foresight to use the docent's spotting scope and write down their tag #s and call the 1-800 number :) It would be cool to find out where they were from.

Mary said...

Wow, Red! I think I'd fall over to see so many Monarchs. Wonderful! Thanks for taking us along with you.


Mary C said...

It sure was a good day, wasn't it? Hopefully, I'll have a few photos to post, too. But they pale in comparison to yours. Great post, Red.

J.G. said...

Lovely photos and lots of cats. What's not to like?

I have nominated you for the Premios Dardo Award. Please visit for the details.

Darla said...

Get out of here! I would have freaked if I saw all of those Monarchs. I look like fool running around here with the camera when I see one! Trying to rememdy that this spring/summer, got me some milkweed!!

Anonymous said...

That's pretty cool. I haven't heard of this place in Pacific Grove. I will have to visit this place in the future. I know they have the Monarchs at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz.

Leedra said...

Oh, to get to see the Monarchs, that is....can't think of a word for it. I only saw my first Monarch this past summer. Did end out seeing about 5 by the end of summer. But 1000s at once? Can I come to visit next winter? :)

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Photography By Leedra

Red said...

@Mary - I practically did fall over. It was incredible!

@Mom - can't wait :)

@J.G. - thanks... I appreciate the accolades.

@Darla - I totally understand :) I just wish we had more than one or two butterflies per year in our backyard! It would be nicer if we had a larger yard where the orange tree didn't take up 50% of it.

@Bernie - Definitely worth the visit. It was my first time there as well as first time to Pacific Grove. Cute burg that is WAAAYYYY out of my price range.

Red said...

You betcha Leedra! I had no idea we lived in an area where the Monarchs winter! We rarely see them as they migrate. I think I only saw 3 or 4 this fall in various locations.


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