Update Letter from Estela Journey North

Monarch Butterflies

"This weekend, maybe due to the high tourists' flow, guards have been assigned to protect stream areas so that visitors are not disturbing such areas where monarchs land and drink."

 
Dear Friends,

Hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of people, from all over México, as well as from Europe, China, and India are coming to see with their own eyes the wonder of monarch butterflies! It's peak tourist season.

At El Rosario, 70 horses are designated for those tourists not able or not willing to walk up or down, or both. There are definitely not enough horses for the high demand on the service.

"We are doing an average of 10 trips a day with our horse each!" horsemen assure.

The dryness of the soil is now very considerable, though the canopy all around looks incredibly fresh-green and colorful everywhere. The intense yellow of some giant Senecio plants, is just a picture for everyone's camera at hand!

This weekend, maybe due to the high tourists' flow, guards have been assigned to protect stream areas so that visitors are not disturbing such areas where monarchs land and drink.

Only 300 meters ahead, as you start making your way up the staircase, monarchs suddenly start flying all around you, most rushing downway, most likely looking for water sources downhill. The water sources give an impression of weakness this year, perhaps due the dryness of the whole environment nowadays.

Visitors get really excited, many of them thinking this, the very walking uphill, could be the Colony itself, not imagining that the core of the Colony, much further up and into the forest, is awaiting for them as a fiction and awesome picture for their eyes. Foreigners show themselves just delighted to be here, expressing their faces' happiness to be here, in spite of the long distances run to be here.

"Just to see them makes it all worthwhile," a Chinese woman told me with a big smile in her face.

Different to last week, monarchs are now doing nice flying performance over Llano de los Conejos, but this is seen in a much more intense way as one gets more and more into Los Letreros woods.

Monarchs continue now to be  at Los Letreros site.  Temperatures point to coming back to high again if it continues to be this intensively bright sunny.   Close observation should be kept on it, since if it continues to keep this warm and bright sunny, this might determine Monarchs' leaving within the few next weeks.  To wait for the experts' opinions on this should be of high interest.

While at a stream, visitors' passing do not allow Monarchs to stay drinking water quietly, at others, it gets amazingly carpeted medium to dark yellow to golden-brown to dark brown. Not to believe and photos might be not enough to describe the experience live.

At last, and after all this many impressions due to the crowds of people visiting the Sanctuaries during these February weekends and the three weekends to come, one reaches the Colony at "Los Letreros." Monarchs have dispersed substantially; it has somewhat to do with the time of the day with the sunshine at its most, of course, being thousands of them flying around, watering and nectaring. However, the colony continues to be concentrated and dense in itself at first sight.

Warning signs around are immediately respected by people.

Guides get better and better every season at informing visitors about different facts on Monarchs overwintering and life-cycle.

Scarce, really scarce mating this weekend. Hmmm... I was expecting to see an open mating activity this weekend, already.  Could it be that monarchs are more active mating some days and others not? More active at some particular moments during the peak of the day? What have experts stated about this?

Tag collectors will be here by the middle-end of this week.  Both mating activity and tag collection --this latter awaited to be really abundant, due to the many Monarchs found dead after the snow storm last March 2016-- should be closely observed and reported to you all, while the winter season heads, step by step, towards its end within the following weeks.

Until next week,

Estela Romero
Angangueo, Michoacán, México
February 26, 2017

Map: Location of monarch butterfly overwintering region in Mexico
Sanctuary Locations
 
El Rosario Sanctuary
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
 

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