We had a good few days with Chip Taylor from Monarch Watch. First we went with him and his team, comprising of Ann, Janice and Jim to El Rosario Monarch Reserve. Here they buy back the tiny sticky tags from the local guides. These tags, the size of a drawing pin, were originally put on the butterflies by hundreds of volunteers and school children in the USA. Now in Mexico, they have been collected by the local guides from the deceased butterflies on the forest floor and returned to Chip. This provides valuable information about the Monarch Butterflies whilst providing the local guides with some income.
Then we headed with Chip to a newly discovered colony that has formed this year. This was a different experience from Chincua as the trees were a lot smaller that before. Being closer to the butterfly roosts meant that when the wind blew it forced the Monarchs to stream off the trees - what a sight! In one such instance Grant found himself completely engulfed by what looked like a blizzard of butterflies. Luckily Francisco our fixer was able to record it on his camera as you can see above.
From the highs of the new colony, to something more sobering. Later in the day we went with Juan Antonio from the WWF to a site of some illegal deforestation. This is bad news for the Monarchs and it was shocking to hear how well organised and heavily armed gangs have caused large amount of tree and ultimately habitat loss. Indeed on the first day I saw some pretty heavily armed forest rangers and wondered why rangers needed machine guns. It’s a complicated matter as you’ll hear in the programme but when a tree is worth $300 the simple truth is the value for some people is considerably more felled than not.
Well, time to pack up the satellite and head back up the hill and to the airport, I'll miss Mexico.
Next stop Brunswick, USA to meet up with the team from the University of New Hampshire and head out to sea to find, catch and tag one of the epic ocean migrants, the Leatherback Turtle. Though Andy Myers one of the scientist has informed me there's a storm ahead so it might be a bit tricky getting out. Fingers crossed!
Jody Bourton, Chincua butterfly reserve, 2008