Locate the trail head.
The monarch butterflies come each year and stay for a few months. The peak for this year has already happened and was not nearly so impressive as the one last year, but there are still quite a few hanging around in the blue gum eucalyptus grove. We went out to Ellwood to see the colony that stops there. There are a few entry points to the Ellwood Bluffs area and we started close to the butterfly preserve area. There are three signs near the beginning to inform about the butterflies and a well established trail leads from there to the grove where they flock. There are a few trees in bloom, but otherwise not so many flowers.
|A hungry bee taking advantage of the flowering trees and getting heavy with pollen as it does.|
We crossed a little wooden bridge over a stream bed that was soggy in places, then some planks over a bit more puddled water into the grove. At first, there are a few butterfly shapes easily spotted fluttering between the tree branches.
|The dark shapes of butterflies against the sky are easily spotted when looking up at the edges of the eucalyptus grove.|
Just a few tens of yards further into the grove, and looking up might reveal a bunch of particularly fat leaves hanging dead on one branch or a thing like a fluttering bee wasp nest on another. Looking more carefully, these are clumps of butterflies hanging together in the trees. We could see sunny spots where butterflies sat spaced in the sun as well as the big clumps that were often, but not always, in the shade. A volunteer is even on hand to answer questions and point out the larger clumps.
|One of the sun lit clumps of monarch butterflies in the preserve's eucalyptus trees.|
|More butterflies high in the trees.|
We walked around the little loops that pass through the preserve to check for more butterflies.
|A bigger clump of butterflies hanging in the shade in the trees.|
|Even more butterflies.|
|Another clump forming in the sun.|
|The eucalyptus is also in bloom.|
|A few more butterflies in the trees.|
While on the bluffs, of course we had to go out onto them a little bit.
|Looking east over the beach from up on the Ellwood Bluffs.|
|Looking back at the mountains. A little left of center is the locality of my wanderings last week.|
|More of the Ellwood Bluffs.|
Afterwards, we watched the butterflies for a little bit longer. At one point, one of the clumps burst apart and butterflies were suddenly flying very densely above.
|Dirty pictures of butterflies!|
|It is getting later and cooler, so the clumps of butterflies are growing.|
|The sky recently filled with butterflies, but they quickly collect into other clumps or disperse.|
After a while, we returned the way we'd come originally.
©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 7 Feb 2013