Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

One of the things we discovered while in Monterey was that there is a Monarch Butterfly Grove Sanctuary, where the Monarchs go to overwinter every year. From their website: 
Arriving in October, monarch butterflies cluster together on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees in the Sanctuary. Their migration to Pacific Grove is so unique that Pacific Grove is nicknamed "Butterfly Town, U.S.A." The community has always welcomed the butterflies and advocated for their protection. Citizens of Pacific Grove voted to create an additional tax to create the Monarch Grove Sanctuary which is cared for by dedicated volunteers. 
 The Monarchs, like the bees, are a threatened species, so protecting them is incredibly important. Our planet needs the pollinators!

 The photos on the website are better than we could get with just a regular camera lens, but I'll show them to you anyway.

I particularly loved this, I kind of made my son put his face in here to appease my need to take a photo, but he was a trooper.

The monarchs come hang out in the eucalyptus and the cypress trees every year, essentially in the backyard of some of the residents - how lucky are those people! They get to live by this gorgeous beach AND they get to house the tens of thousands of Monarch Butterflies every year - what a treat!

There's a main area where there are docents to answer questions about the monarchs, and they have scopes that are pointed at the butterflies so you can see them better. Without the scopes, they're far away in really tall treetops and tend to look like clusters of leaves. See? Those things that look like leaves are the Monarchs. I promise.

If you look through the scope, they look like the photo below. This photo is from the website linked above. It was NOT taken by me, but by someone with much better camera equipment or possibly through the lens of the scope. I did see someone trying to do that with their camera phone while we were there. Why didn't I? Missed opportunity.

But it was still really cool to see them, since I haven't seen a proper Monarch butterfly that I can remember since my childhood in New Hampshire and in the Catskill Mountains. There was tons of milkweed there (a plant they need to be able to lay eggs), and so the Monarchs loved it. I wonder if it's all still there and if they still go. 

We weren't there very long, less than an hour. The short trail goes down thrugh the grove to a street below, so we just walked down and back up and looked through the scopes again, then chatted to the docents a little. It was a nice little quick stop, which was lucky for us because my son didn't have nearly as much patience for just hanging around looking through scopes as we did.

Still, the area is amazingly beautiful, and the neighborhood businesses have all embraced the Monarchs, as we saw them on signs everywhere as we drove in and out.  

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