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Early Monarch Sighted in New Brunswick
May 4, 1998
I couldn't believe my eyes today when I saw my first MONARCH pass by. The wind has been from the southwest
for the past three days, bringing fog and drizzle. The fog finally lifted about noon today (May 4) and at 4 p.m.
the Monarch fluttered past headed in a more or less northerly direction.
This is my earliest spring sighting by a good two weeks here on Grand Manan Island at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.
I usually see them first around 18-20 May. It was not exactly warm today, about 56F, and there are few flowers
out, except for dandelions. One has to wonder what such early individuals survive on?
I didn't have my binoculars with me, but the MONARCH passed within 50 feet. At first I thought it was a Mourning
Cloak, but then I caught the characteristic flight "gizz" and that, combined with the large size, convinced
me it was indeed a MONARCH. After having seen several hundred over the years, you get a feel for them. Just the
purposefulness of its flight alone is diagnostic. I have watched them migrating in fall and when they get going,
they don't stop. This fellow was heading for the mainland, probably about 20 miles to the north.
It was a fresh individual with no sign of worn wings. It was partly cloudy at the time so the orange on the upperwings
was muted. The feeling I got was that it was a dark orange individual, not a faded one like you see in late summer.
I know this is an incredible sighting, but I am certain of what I saw.
I can't rule out the possibility of someone having released it, but as far as I'm aware, no one in the Maritimes
is doing that. I will make some inquiries to see if any were seen in southwestern Nova Scotia today. They have
had records as early as the first week of May in the past. A friend saw one in Halifax (NS) on May 12th one year.