by Susan Meyers and Trecia Neal
Week: February 13-20, 2010
Because of road closures and conflicting reports about the safety conditions
at El Rosario sanctuary and the town of Angangueo, we decided again not
to risk visiting the area this week.
17: A Wet, Cold Visit to Chincua
Monarchs Across Georgia group of eighteen teachers and butterfly
enthusiasts left Morelia early Ash Wednesday morning. The grey skies and
rain did not dampen our spirits as today would be our first visit of the
week to a butterfly sanctuary! We traveled by bus 2 ½ hours through
Maravatio and Santa Maria, arriving at Sierra Chincua around noontime.
The gentle rain did not subside as we ate our lunch and the cold winds
at this mountain reserve had us gathering our winter coats, gloves and
rain gear to ride on horseback for 25 minutes into the forest where the
trail we saw evidence of small mudslides and downed trees due to the recent
rains. A muddy “creek” ran over the trail where we dismounted
and had to walk the remaining distance to the colony. The monarchs were
in the same location as last week but hung tightly clustered high in the
trees like beehives, they swayed in the breezes. From our restricted point
of view on the trail, we saw little evidence of mortality but wondered
what a walk under the clusters might reveal.
a spectacular sight, our stay was short as wet gear and cold temperatures
chilled hands and feet to the point of aching.
was predicted for Thursday, February 18, but clear skies were in the forecast
for Friday, February 19, so we postponed our visit to the butterfly colony
at Cerro Pelon.
19: Sun and Fluttering Butterflies
were awakened several times during the night by heavy rainfall but as
morning broke, we actually caught glimpses of blue sky and a rainbow appeared
which made us hopeful that our trek to Cerro Pelon would be “brighter”
than that to Sierra Chincua.
Books to the Community
A short drive from Jungapeo, crossing the border into the state of Mexico,
we arrived at Macheros. Books, school supplies and special bookmarks,
posters and letters from students in the USA brought smiles to the faces
of students at the “Vincente Guerrero” school and tears of
joy to the teachers who delivered these tokens of goodwill. Besides seeing
the monarchs, this is our favorite activity each year!
traditional trout lunch at Rosa’s, we mounted our steeds and rode
50 minutes up the mountainside through the beautiful pristine forest.
We noted evidence of small mudslides and downed trees from the recent
rains along the trail and our guide reported that two days ago, it had
snowed atop the mountain of Cerro Pelon.
When we arrived at our final destination, it was 2:00 p.m. and large white
fluffy clouds were moving quickly through the sunny skies. The monarchs
were in the same place as last week but today, thousands of them were
posed eerily all over the ground, shivering and slowly crawling upwards
onto whatever object was close to them. At one place on the trail we observed
a couple standing quietly that were covered with butterflies – on
their heads, shirts and pants!
As we sat
and observed monarchs flying in the sunlight of the canyon, hanging in
clusters on oyamel and pine trees, and crawling along the ground, we witnessed
on several occasions, thousands take flight at the moment when a cloud
blocked out the sun. How spectacular to see and hear the flurry of so
many orange and black wings!
we have not seen an official report of the quantity of monarchs at Cerro
Pelon, our guide estimated that the colony was about 1 hectare in size.
The temperature during our visit was 51 degrees F and humidity was at
dias to the following schools!
Fernbank Science Center, Briarlake Elementary, Smokerise Elementary,
and Huntley Hills Elementary.
Eastside Elementary, Arbor Station Elementary, New Manchester Elementary.
Worth County Primary
Rockdale County JH House.
Central School District, NY: Peterboro
Street Elementary from their teachers that traveled with us this week.
- Hola tambien
to members of the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Southeast
Michigan Butterfly Association.
and Trecia Neal
more information about the Books
to Mexico program, see the Monarchs Across Georgia website.