The Monarch Monitoring Project is a long-term study on monarch migration through Cape May, NJ. It is a part of the New Jersey Audubon Research Department, and closely affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Busy week!

The monarchs that arrived last weekend continue to stick around Cape May Point.  It was a wonderful day for watching monarchs, with good numbers in every garden and some terrific sightings in the seaside goldenrod along the dunes, especially late in the day, when the wind died down.

Monarchs on seaside goldenrod.
Our team did a lot of tagging today, and we were surprised and delighted by a big crowd, nearly 100 people, at our afternoon tagging demo.  It wasn't one of those days when monarchs filled the air, we haven't seen a day like that for two years, but it was a day when you could see multiple monarchs whenever you wanted.  The entire week has been like that.

Monarch roosting near the junction of Harvard & Whilldin Avenues.
We have been searching each afternoon for spots where monarchs might be gathering for overnight communal roosts.  On big monarch flights in the past we've found places with several thousand monarchs clustering together.  We still haven't found anything like that this year, but at least we found over 150 in several clusters of 20 to 40 monarchs each in the trees along Harvard Ave. in Cape May Point, all near the junction with Whilldin Ave.  This is an area where the monarchs were feeding like crazy all day on the seaside goldenrod, so it made sense for them to head to nearby trees for the night.

A few of the roosting monarchs.
We are hearing reports of good numbers of monarchs to our north, and Thursday morning should bring favorable winds for migration, so we expect butterflies to be on the move.  Some that have been lingering here for a few days are likely to head south, while others should arrive into the Cape May airspace.  Some will likely continue on to Delaware, but good numbers might be expected to stop in Cape May to rest and refuel.  Will we end up with more or fewer monarchs by the end of the day tomorrow?  Your guess is as good as mine, but we'll be out there looking and we promise to report back on what we find.

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