Friday, December 20, 2013

Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges

With Christmas presents wrapped and under the tree, I went to Natural Bridges SP near Santa Cruz last week. There used to be more bridges but they have collapsed. Still gorgeous.

One large rock formation  with a arch large enough for two or three people to walk through sits in the tidal zone at Natural Bridges.
Natural Bridges

No one was in the water except this guy, busy searching for dinner.

White Snowy Egret in profile with slender black legs, yellow feet and yellow patch at base of long bill
Snowy Egret

The best reason to visit this time of year is the butterflies that winter in the ravines. Looking up, they appear to be branches of dead leaves. But look again.

A flight of orange monarch butterflies cling together in a eucalyptus tree looking like autumn leaves.
Monarch butterflies in eucalyptus

A flight of monarch butterflies cling together in a eucalyptus tree looking like a white, orange and brown leaves.
More Monarch butterflies

They group like this for warmth. There were thousands of them this year but I'm told there were millions in the '70's. Monarchs live on every continent except Antarctica. They lay eggs on milkweed, the only plant their caterpillars eat. Human development is destroying milkweed habitat. I bought some seeds to plant in a pot this spring. One bush per monarch. I'm on their migratory path so perhaps they will visit me soon.

Enjoy the day. Ann

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