Wintering Monarchs Return To San Clemente State Beach

Hello Butterfly Friends,

We have exciting news… it appears the Monarchs are returning to SC State Beach! On Nov. 5th we spotted about 100 Monarchs nectaring in about 10 different Eucalyptus trees (mostly the silver dollar gum species) and today we went back, mid-morning to early afternoon to observe and photograph probably 200 or so at the park, some were in the trees nearest the location of the milkweed we planted, mostly nectaring; others were spread in a fewer number of trees, both the gum variety and the other narrow leaf standard.

We found many small groups (6-11 butterflies) clustering in the shadier branches by early afternoon, clearly conserving energy! Interestingly, they were inhabiting a large grove of Euc trees near the park road and the exact location of the Monarch Trail/Migration sign. Someone must have known what they were doing there, as the Monarchs knew to return primarily to the central spot! Once a large RV drove by quickly and I watched them all flutter from that grouping, revealing just how many there were that I could not see or photograph! There was also a great number in a (huge) Silver Dollar Euc. tree that is further south in the park, closer to state park administration on a meadow/field. These were nectaring too. Some of the sky pictures are of the Monarchs nectaring at the highest points of this tree.

Here is the link to my public web album from today:

As you see from the pictures, I also witnessed egg laying in the front bed by the guard station that we just recently amended and re-seeded. I saw 4 mated pairs of Monarchs flying too. Clearly some are still not ready for diapause and Concordia (next door) has milkweed still so we may not be looking at the 4th generation of Monarchs just yet, or at least the locals may not feel they are the last, but there are definitely some who are ready for their winter rest. We saw an amazing number of male Monarchs in the groupings, and they were not aggressive with each other as they can be in our gardens. Very interesting!

I am sure I speak for everyone involved in helping to restore this area as a pollinator habitat and overwintering site, it has been well worth all the effort. I look forward to more excitement to come!

Would anyone have experience with doing a butterfly count as they do for NABA? I haven’t been on one but bet we could set a date for Thanksgiving Week to have one at the park. Whether it is an official count or unofficial, doesn’t so much matter. Is anyone interested? It’s been just my family doing the observations, but it would be great to do something in teams and spread out to assess the numbers by the end of November.


Kris Ethington
kethington AT cox Dot net>
Junior Gardener Program Chair
San Clemente Garden Club
Learning Through Nature Program
Concordia Elementary School

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