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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Day 1

The first day of field season 2015 is in the books.  In confirmation of our recent subjective reports of decent numbers of monarchs being seen around Cape May, today's censuses tallied, 5 monarchs at 9 am, 5 and noon, and 7 on the 3 pm census.  It was the first day of field work for our two seasonal workers, and it's time to introduce them to you.  Lindsey Brendel returns for a second season of work with the Monarch Monitoring Project.  In addition to the usual duties, Lindsey will help coordinate the work of volunteers performing pilot studies of monarchs at Stone Harbor Point and at East Point Light.  Although her family home is far inland, on a small farm in Michigan, Cape May has clearly worked its way into Lindsey's heart.  She came back in the spring to work with the state of New Jersey's Beach Nesting Bird program.  She recently wrote about her work with the birds and with the monarchs on the blog of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, a post you can read here:  She's even picked out her "dream house" here on the Cape, though it isn't for sale and, if it was, it might be out of her price range.  We're delighted to be working with Lindsey again this year.

Here's Lindsey Brendel in early September, 2014, with one of the first monarchs she tagged.
We happy to welcome Katie Burns to the Monarch Monitoring Project.  Katie arrived in Cape May yesterday and we put her to work today, observing each of the day's three censuses, getting oriented to the key study sites in Cape May Point, meeting many of the local naturalists, and helping Lindsey and the Cape May Bird Observatory (CMBO) staff set up the monarch terrarium and display at the CMBO Northwood Center, located on East Lake Drove in Cape May Point.  Katie is a recent Environmental Science graduate of Wheaton College who has done a lot of field work studying native bees.  She has a strong interest in the educational outreach portion of the MMP.  When asked why she wanted to work with monarch butterflies, this was part of her response: "Monarch behavior, particularly monarch migration, is one of the most complex and interesting performances in the natural world, and I would love the opportunity to be a part of the research and outreach surrounding these fascinating creatures.  I remember studying the life cycle of monarch butterflies as a young child and gaining such a great appreciation for their tenacity, which defies their delicate appearance. I am excited to educate the public about these far-­traveling pollinators so that others can experience the same spirit of inquiry that I felt as a child.

Katie Burns with the very first monarch she tagged, 9/1/15 at Cape May Point.
Clearly the Monarch Monitoring Project is once again in good hands.  We hope that many of you reading this blog will find one or more opportunities to visit Cape May Point this fall.  We have a new opportunity for you to visit one or more members of our research team this fall.  Every day, from Sept. 13 through Oct. 18, our team will be present at 11:00 am at the Triangle Park in Cape May Point, located at the junction of Lighthouse and Coral Avenues.  Come visit with the team and chat about monarch biology and migration.  As in past years, we will have many tagging demos at Cape May Point State Park.  These are held at 2:00 pm, and the dates this year are Sept. 12, 18, 19, 20, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30, and Oct. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 17.  If you're on the hawk watch platform one afternoon don't be surprised if there's an impromptu tagging demo up there, too!  And visit the CMBO Northwood Center or the Nature Center of Cape May to see displays about monarch biology, which include monarch caterpillars and, soon, which will also include monarchs in the pupa, or chrysalis stage.

Cape May Point sunset, 9/1/15.

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