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, October 13, 2015

Surprise arrivals

Monarch numbers had been remaining fairly steady around Cape May Point over the last few days.  Nothing like the big surge from Thursday through Saturday of last week, but it was never hard to find a few monarchs.  The seaside goldenrod is in full bloom along the dunes, and monarchs have been frequenting these nectar-rich flowers.  We've still been seeing them in the gardens around town as well.

Female monarch on seaside goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens.
Field Naturalist Lindsey Brendel conducted the censuses at 9 am, 12 noon, and 3 pm, on the normal schedule, and many members of the team gathered for the 11 am "drop-in" program at the Triangle Park, where there were a few monarchs, a few visitors, and a big snapping turtle distracting us as it ambled right through the garden while traveling from Lake Lily to Lighthouse Pond.

Snapping turtle.

The day was warm, so we didn't expect to see any change in monarch numbers, so most of the team headed elsewhere.  Only Lindsey was still in the field when the CMBO staff on the hawkwatch informed us that they were suddenly seeing an influx of monarchs late in the afternoon.  We all headed back down to Cape May Point to try to assess the scale of the influx.  The increase in monarch numbers was barely visible in the gardens, but there were quite a few more monarchs in the dunes.  It wasn't a huge number, but an obvious increase on a day when no increase was expected.

We hoped that this increase might lead to a substantial overnight roost of monarchs, but temperatures were still quite warm and many seemed content to stay in the dunes amidst the goldenrod flowers.  Many of the traditional roost areas had just a few monarchs, but we did find about 40 in a pine near the base of the Whilldin Ave. dune crossover, photos below.

The weather forecast suggests good conditions for the arrival of more monarchs over the next few days.  We'll be out there watching and counting, and we'll let you know what we find.

No comments:

Post a Comment