Monday, September 28, 2009

Monarch Migration now underway!!!

Folks,

Back in the fall of 2004 I was the Monarch Monitoring guy on the Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR. For 3 months I carried my camera and net and did surveys of the Monarch migration on the refuge and surrounding area. I tagged 550 Monarchs, though none of them were recovered in Mexico.

I was told by the people who had been monitoring the Monarchs in the years past that the Pine trees at the northern edge of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was the best place to find the Monarchs before they made the 25 mile journey across the Chesapeake Bay. Yes I did find them there, discovered that the cherry trees (pictured here) was an even better place to find them some mornings. These photos were taken with a 400mm lens and a good tripod. Sorry to get to this site you need 2 permits one from the National Wildlife Refuge and another from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Police.


Below are some scenes of the Monarchs on the Black Pines a non native species that tolerates salt from sea spray.


The most Monarchs I found on a given day was around 1500.

My job of monitoring also expected me to visit the Hawk Migration Platform 3 times a day, I saw thousands of migrating hawks some days. One day the hummingbird feeder had a Painted Lady and Monarch visit it, new for me. We also saw a Cloudless Sulphur on the feeder too.

Some of the Monarchs I tagged didn't make it like this one a Chinese Preying Mantis snagged the next day after I tagged it. That goldenrod is Seaside Goldenrod an amazing butterfly attractor.


Two male Monarchs on another species of goldenrod.

Close of male Monarch on goldenrod. I have hundreds of photos from this extended trip. I'd do it again but I was not paid enough to make my house payment, so it was a one time adventure.

25 comments:

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

OMG! Randy!!!! What treasures you are showing to us!!! Wonderful, majestic, grand! I can't even tell wich shot is my favorite. They all are breathtaking! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Russell said...

Incredible! I live in Iowa and we see a migration of Monarchs every fall. They literally fill the trees and air as they pass through.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today and I hope you will stop by again.

One of my favorite books is Chesapeake by James Michenor - in fact, I think it is his best along with Alaksa.

Take care and I hope you are selling those images - they are excellent!

Shady Gardener said...

What wonderful experiences you must have with this project! I wonder how many photographs you actually took? It would certainly be hard for me to keep my mind on the task at hand with all those photo opportunities. ;-)

nancybond said...

Absolutely exquisite photos of one of Nature's most miraculous feats. Amazing shots.

Meredith said...

Gasp! I long to see monarchs in such numbers. What beautiful photos, and such grand experiences you are enjoying! Thank you for all the work you are doing with monarchs. I've seen a few in my garden recently, but not great numbers. The monarchs started migrating a little west of Austin instead of through it, so our numbers in the city have been so-so of late.

Janet said...

Wow Randy, what great photos. To see all those Monarchs clustered together is just amazing.

tina said...

I couldn't imagine seeing all these beauties in one place. Simply spectacular.

keewee said...

Awesome hardly comes close to describe the sight of so many beautiful butterflies at one time.
Randy, thank you for the pictures.

GetSoiled said...

These pics are absolutely spectacular!!!! Oh my, how I wish I could witness that...thanks for documenting it and letting us live vicariuosly through you.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Amazing, amazing!! Thanks for this post Randy! Truly a sight to be seen in one's lifetime!!

Heather said...

Hi Randy~ What an amazing thing to be a part of. Stunning!

Ginger said...

Amazing photographs! We remarked this weekend about the sudden influx of monarchs even in our urban area.
It brings us much joy to see one enjoying a flower we planted just for them.

Lori said...

These photos are fabulous! It reminded me of the day at Ridge Junction Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Mitchell when we had several hundred hanging in the cherry trees waiting for the sun to come up. What great memories! Thanks for sharing.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

What beautiful pictures. I've never seen one let alone 1500 on one day! This might be a very dumb question, but how do you tag a Monarch?

sweet bay said...

What fantastic pictures! Those butterflies are so beautiful!

Barbara said...

thanks for sharing

John said...

Great post! I've never seen the monarchs in that kind of quantity. I saw a few here last year (strays I guess) but only for one morning. I'll keep my eyes peeled for any off course fliers this year.

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

Hilary said...

Wow.. this is just incredible. Such amazing photos. I've been thrilled to see up to five at one time.. this would be incredible. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog earlier this week and setting me straight about the Eastern Kingbird. Very much appreciated. I sure hope you'll be back again soon. :)

Carol said...

Hi Randy, What a treat to see these fabulous images of the Monarchs. This year is the first in nearly twenty that i did not have the great joy of raising caters from milkweed harvested from my paths... there simply were only a few here the entire season. I miss that magical process and releasing butterflies into the gardens well ... there is a bit of emptiness there. So ... seeing your photos is quite a tonic! I traveled to Mexico and did not get photos like yours! Wonderful post! Carol

Di said...

Simply Spectacular photos of the Monarch Randy. I do wish we had the joy of seeing them here... will have to research what attracts them.

Q said...

Fantastic!
I have seen many Zebra Longwings roost in Texas but never the Monarchs enmass. I did see thousands roosting in the grasses in southern Iowa. Each grass had a Monarch... It was an awesome sight. As the sun rose over the grass each Monarch awoke and came over the trail I was hiking. One by one they floated over...my jar is still dropped....
Sherry

Wendy said...

Very cool! I have a real appreciation for the things, but honestly, I'm pretty scared of butterflies. Butterflies in this quantity would probably induce a heart attack for me.

Lino Ruiu said...

Hi,
wonderful pictures, a wonderful migration of Monarchs!
Thanks for stopping by my blog today and I hope you will stop by again.
My congratulations for your Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise Blog
Warm wishes

generic viagra said...

Hi what a beautiful butterflies, I would like to have a small zoo of insects and exhibit these butterflies.