Visit to Chincua on a Windy Day
Never was the importance of shelter illustrated so dramatically than it
was at the Chincua sanctuary yesterday, March the 8th. A number of us
teachers, nature lovers from New York, Texas, Michigan, and North Carolina
walked the 3 kilometers from the Rincon de los Lobos to the Chincua Colony
located at the headwaters of the Zapatero Canyon.
Winds Were Blowing Dry, Cool Air
Two thirds of the way, past the Molonera Alta and past the great Mirador
with the 15” think maradrones, we encountered remnants of the old
mid-February colony. High altitude westerly winds were blowing dry, cool
air at nearly gale force. Trees were blown, branches shook, and butterflies
lost their grip and were strew about the ground. Unfortunately for some
of them, they were blown onto the main trail to the colony.
Butterflies Covered the Ground
It was relatively easy for us pedestrians to pick our way amongst the
fallen butterflies. But the horse carrying passengers to and from the
colony didn’t bother. Some butterflies were crushed. Those that
weren’t were exposed to increased risk of predation at night by
the black earned mouse, and increased possibility of freezing if cold
weather impacted the area.
Monarchs Had Moved for Shelter
But the majority of the colony had moved down into the shallow
headwaters of the Zapatero Canyon where they were protected from the high
velocity winds. Indeed, amongst the trees holding the clustered butterflies,
we hardly felt any wind at all. A scant 300-400 meters to the west, we
could hear the wind slamming into the trees growing near the ridgeline.
The monarchs of Chincua are clearly smart, having chosen a location sheltered
from the high velocity westerly winds.