Friday, November 2, 2012

Monarchs and Beach Time

Four days of unhurried travel got us from Pagosa Springs to Pismo Beach, stopping by 3 or 4 p.m., 300 miles max.  We have run the gamut of landscape environments; desert, mountains, now ocean, with a range of altitudes, allergies, and colors.  We have mostly boondocked in National Parks or on BLM property, though lately a trailer park and resort spa claimed our home!  And we are almost home....

Pismo Beach

You have been to Pismo Beach with us several times now, at least 2 or 3 times a year.  The kids from Half Moon Bay usually meet us here for Spring Break, and our good friends, Edna and Allen, live in nearby Nipomo.  Our parking of choice is the Pismo State Beach North Beach Campground whose reservation system almost necessitates planning ahead or being willing to move from one spot to another.  We somehow managed a week's stay with only one move.


Beach-side Eucalyptus

This is also the winter home of thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies.  From late October through February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of the huge groves of Eucalyptus trees here in the park; a little R & R while en route from Canada to Baja.  Well-informed volunteer docents offer daily talks and information.  I wondered how they arrived at their population count.  In some instances they do an actual physical count using a tall pole and net.  The butterflies are scooped off the limbs while sleeping in the cooler early mornings and put in a paper bag, then counted one by one, noting male and female.  Apparently their wings are the strength of a fingernail so this does not hurt them.


Turning leaves...or?

When early one morning I walked over with tripod and zoom lens, a volunteer came over to point me towards what looked like dead leaves on the trees.  No, take a closer look, and produced some powerful binoculars.  As the sun hit the limbs the "leaves" came alive with the warmth and soon became butterflies.  


Butterfly metamorphosis!





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