We've monitored this location for the previous four weekends and tagged good numbers of monarchs during the day. Each night monarchs were scattered among a large number of trees along the creek. But Friday evening when I walked by the east side of the large willow trees near a thicket of thistles, approximately 10 monarchs startled and began flying in circles then returned to nearby branches. We stepped back and watched the area and could spot 18 monarchs in singles gather near each other on the tips of branches about 12 to 18 inches apart. The largest concentration was near the southeast portion of the tree. Another cluster of trees (willows and cottonwoods) further south along the creek on private property had another 12 monarchs for the night. Saturday morning we arrived early when the temperature was 42.3 degrees and watched their wings open at 7:45 at 52.3 degrees as they sunned then began to fly down to nectar on the thistles and sip the morning dew. We went again on Saturday evening but this did not reoccur and Sunday morning there were very few monarchs in the area, mainly just a couple of ragged breeders left with 2 or 3 fresh and new along the entire creek.
This photo of a monarch sipping water during migration was taken Saturday morning (10/5/13). Monarchs dip down from the trees in the morning and then drink the dew along the creek bed before nectaring on thistles nearby. This was at 8:30 a.m. with the temperature of 67.3F. See photo. We noticed this also the week before but the photos are not as clear.
Observed by: Gail
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