Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Royal Sighting

Adopt the pace of nature: 
her secret is patience.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patience is not my best virtue. Just ask my parents. Or Randy. Or my kids. On second thought, let's not.

After unsuccessful attempts to photograph Monarch butterflies around my house, I got my chance at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge's Monarch Mania last Saturday morning. 
The night before, I'd driven to the refuge's headquarters to see if the Monarchs were nesting in the trees there. When I saw the photo of the clusters of Monarchs on my Facebook page that morning, I hoped they'd be ready for their "closeups" as evening approached and temperatures again cooled.
Photo: Stick around for awhile:  migrating Monarch butterflies were seen in groups like this in the trees around Headquarters this morning - just in time for our annual Monarch Mania event!  It will be held from 9:00 am to noon tomorrow (21 September) at Quivira's Environmental Education Classroom.  As with all of our events, it's free - and fun!  Come by and see.
Photo from Quivira National Wildlife Refuge's Facebook page - September 20, 2013
But, while there were a few stragglers circling the treetops, most had moved south with the blowing winds.  No longer grouped like farmers at the coffee shop, the butterflies that remained at Quivira were loners.

But the 104 people who came for Monarch Mania were undeterred. After we watched the net demonstration, we took off like mighty hunters, toting nets and cameras.
I was intrigued by a preteen girl who seemed to be a walking encyclopedia about butterflies.  She captured a Monarch and raced off toward an orange-vested Quivira staff member, who tagged it with a small sticker, recording the number on a clipboard log.
Photo: Wing bling:  here is a tagged Monarch from Saturday's event.  The tag is a small sticker that is applied to the wing.  It is so light-weight the butterfly would scarcely notice.  Each tag has a unique code number that can be tracked online.
Photo from the Quvira Facebook page. All other photos are mine, unless marked otherwise.
The girl then set the butterfly free, and it made a beeline for some nearby goldenrod. I guess it was a good thing it was hungry because that was the closest I got to a Monarch during this season's migration.
In all, 50 Monarchs were tagged and released during the event. The tagging is monitored by Monarch Watch based at Lawrence, KS.

While the Monarchs were the headliners, this Clouded Sulphur butterfly also liked the goldenrod nectar. (Identified with my new handy-dandy Pocket Guide to Common Kansas Butterflies by Jim Mason, which I got at Monarch Mania. I hope my detection skills are correct!)
This caterpillar played hide and seek among the blooms.
You don't have to be the star attraction to be beautiful in your own way. I think there's a lesson there somewhere.


  1. Cool! Glad you got to see the butterflies! It is so hard to get a good pic of them! LOL! Mine are either blurry or half a butterfly. Great pics.

    1. It's nice to see them back in the area. The past two summers, we've had very few butterflies because of the severe drought. I hadn't gotten any Monarch photos since 2010 because of that, so I was especially pleased to finally get close enough! Hope your cattle moving adventures go well the next few days!

  2. Can you tell me anything about that caterpillar? I've seen several of those the past couple of days.

    1. I'm sorry that I can't, Lynda. My handy-dandy butterfly pocket guide doesn't have caterpillars. I saw a dark brown caterpillar on my walk last week. This guy was much prettier. (Sorry for the slow response. I've been wrangling flower girls this past weekend! They don't "light" much longer than butterflies!)