South Bass Island 9-13-15 Day 2 monarch weekend
After a cold, blustery night of fierce W/NW winds, I returned to the lighthouse grounds to see if monarchs had dropped from the sky to roost overnight. I arrived before the sun was up, and watched as the east sky purpled with the morning light. It was 52F, winds WNW at 5-10 mph. At 6:45 am, I walked up to the hackberry trees, scanning the treeline for monarchs. I found 300, resting in clusters of 1-2 dozen, scattered throughout the treeline about 15-20 feet up. I used my flash to photograph them initially, and found a tagged monarch with code UNW 487. As the sun continued to rise, the clusters began to softly light up. I noted 100 more monarchs in the daylight, which I had not seen in the early dawn light. By 7:45 am, the sun was shining directly on some of the trees, and monarchs began to bask. When the sun's rays hit them enough to warm them, they would burst from the trees in groups of around a dozen, flying just 10-20 feet from the trees before immediately circling back and landing on the trees--landing so they were further apart, and basking. More and more began to bask. The early morning light now created glare, and I was thankful I had come so early to photograph them when the lighting was softer. A total of 400 monarchs!
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