Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Good winds, bad weather!
Sunday the winds were West-Northwest, the same wind direction that gets the birders excited. And for good reason! The hawk count was excellent today (for more info, check out the Cape May Bird Observatory's blog "View from the field" for a summary of the bird sightings for the day).
The winds were strong for most of the day, often gusting above 15 mph, making it hard for monarchs to lift off and find some flowers to nectar on. However we did see a good number of monarchs coming through the Point, but not the great numbers we were hoping to find. I think that we'll see a better emergence once the winds calm down and the temperatures rise a little. Tomorrow's forecast calls for south winds from 15 to 20 mph. We don't expect many monarchs to arrive under these conditions, but we'll probably see monarchs actively feeding in the gardens at Cape May Point. We'll continue to keep you posted.
The "Beat the Census 5 Miler" (http://capeislandrunners.com/blog/2014/10/1/beat-the-census-5-miler-is-this-sunday) made today's census extra special, because not only did the regular census driver make the 5-mile drive to count Monarchs, but an entire crew followed by foot and pedal! Participants raced to the finish line and tried to finish with good time and good Monarch counts. Big thanks go out to Kashi & Glen Davis for organizing the event and preparing wonderful refreshments. This event made a beautiful day even better!
People often ask how this year is compared to other years. With our data only added up for 3 weeks, it's still early to compare long-term trends. We don't know if we still have another peak coming (let's hope!) or if it has already passed. But given this information, we can see how this year is trending compared to others. Notice that the counts over the first few weeks of this year are not as good as some of the earliest selected years shown here. This year's first 3 weeks are looking marginally better than last year or 2011.We now know that migrating Monarch populations throughout North America are declining, according to ongoing research at the overwintering grounds in Mexico.
Why the decline? There are so many conservation issues affecting the Monarchs, and habitat loss is one of the biggest ones. You have the power to change the trend, and your action is necessary. Start a butterfly garden, plant milkweed, educate your neighbors and children, or mail your legislators today. Keep this beautiful and mysterious insect alive! The Monarch Joint Venture has great information about creating habitat for monarchs in your garden: http://www.monarchjointventure.org/get-involved/create-habitat-for-monarchs/