Masiel, Robert, Sleyker and I release a few more monarchs on a warm October afternoon. I wish it would warm up again so I can release the last few we have!
Alexandra and Stephanie had luck on their side last Friday. All day long the weather looked cloudy, dreary, grey and bleak. It really looked like rain. Will it rain? Will the campfire be canceled? Around 4:30pm the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds and showed itself.
We had a great time at the Refuge! When we first got there, we walked over to the milkweed patch. There is a large patch of common milkweed in front of the headquarters building. Stephanie, Alexandra and I started turning over leaves looking for signs of monarch caterpillars and eggs. As I scanned the patch, I saw plants that were obviously eaten. “Let’s look there!” We went over to the nibbled on plants and there they were! Four tiny monarch caterpillars, probably first instars. One of them still had the black face mask of a one day old caterpillar. So cool!
Next we went over to the campfire site. Barry, Pete, Christine and Debbie were waiting to start. They are a few of the wonderful people who volunteer for the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. Barry instructed the group of families to take a nature walk first, then come back for the campfire and singing. The girls were very excited and could not contain their smiles. 🙂
We all had a nice walk down to Gull Pond and Gull Pond Tower. See if you can find Gull Pond by clicking on the map here. Along the way we saw many red-winged blackbirds, great egrets and catbirds. The kids never got tired of pointing out another bird. The fog began to roll back in as we made our way back along Gull Pond Road. By the time we got back to the campfire, the fog was in and the temperature had dropped. That was okay because we had the fire and friends to keep us warm. Axavier D. and his mom came and brought marshmallows and sticks on which to roast them. What a nice treat! We sang songs and danced and laughed. Everyone roasted marshmallows and ate their burnt treats until they couldn’t eat anymore. As we started to sing the last song, the gnats found us and started to get in our eyes, ears, noses and hair. Barry noticed our distress and ended the songs.
Pete and the girls dance and sing to the “The Blubber Song.”
Yummy! Nothing tastes quite as good as marshmallows roasted over an open fire.
Everyone had a wonderful time at the Refuge. I hope more of you will visit the Refuge and see for yourself all that it has to offer. Come for a hike or a bike ride. Bring your binoculars and see how many egrets you can see. Take a slow walk down to Gull Pond. Feel the wind blowing across your face. Breathe and listen. Smile.
ABC News Nightline ran this video on February 19, 2009. It shows the monarch colonies and the problems the Mexicans are facing with illegal logging of the Oyamel forest. Click on the link below to view the program.
I finally made it to the place where our 26 monarchs hopefully migrated! We had a very long bus ride, about 2 1/2 hours over some very bumpy roads that climbed steep into the Transvolcanic Mountain Ridge. The bus took us through a variety of towns and villages. We saw farmers working their fields with horse and plow. We saw men and women tending their sheep, goats and cows in fields. We saw school children in their clean, green and white uniforms playing outside. As we drove further into the mountains, my ears kept popping. The colony is located at about 10,000 ft. elevation. 1. About how many yards is that?
Once we got off the bus and everyone had a chance to use the bathroom, our hike up the mountain began! It was kind of a difficult hike, the climb was steep and the elevation made it difficult to breathe. We saw many birds along the way. One of my favorites was the red warbler. Our guide said they eat the monarchs, but later we learned that that was not true. According to Erik, there are two that eat our beautiful butterflies in Mexico–the oriole and the grosbeak. We did not see either of these two birds and I am glad!
We continued our climb up the steep mountains, passing many flowering plants and trees. A few monarchs flitted around our heads making all of us even more excited than we already were! When will we see the colony? How long will it take to get there? How many butterflies will there be? As we got closer, we saw some clumps of monarchs hanging from tree branches. We made sure not to disturb them, admired their beauty and continued on our way.
I have many more photos to share and more to tell, but I must go to sleep now. Tomorrow we head to Chicua and another monarch colony. To my students: please read everything carefully! Don’t just look at the pictures and post. Read what I have written here for you. And after you are done posting here, make sure you read and post on the previous posts as well.
- 1. In what year were the most monarchs recorded? What is the reason you think these numbers are so high?
2. In what year were the least monarchs recorded? What do you think could have happened to make these numbers so low?
3. Scientists look for trends. (A trend is a general direction in which something is moving.) What trends do you see in the data?
More questions will be coming, so make sure to keep visiting our blog!
- learning about robins and their migration
- spring peeper frogs and their spring arrival and
- of course, for monarch butterflies!
The website is updated on a weekly basis and this week’s site is FANTASTIC! There is information on the colonies, how many monarchs are in the colonies this year and so much more. Here is an amazing photo, taken by Dr. Lincoln Brower. Do you notice anything unusual about this photograph?? PLEASE POST AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!