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Running with Monarchs

After listening to this clip of Professor Chip Taylor describing the overwhelming visual spectacle of the Monarch Butterfly migration from the Sierra Madre, it became apparent that World On the Move had to be there. This is our reporter, Grant Sonnex's, first blog entry from Angangueno, Mexico.

Monarch Butterfly from the Nature Picture Library

Running with Monarchs

Chip Taylor describes the spectacle of 20-40,000 Monarchs in Mexico's Sierra Madre

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They're up there somewhere – at the moment that’s all we know.

Just arrived in the small mountain town of Angangueno, a couple of hours drive north-west of Mexico City. Across the straw-coloured, dry season planes, past roadside vendors selling sliced watermelons, peaches, and tepache -- the juice of fermented pineapple skin. And now the evening sunlight through the sharp mountain air is doing wonders for the rows of geraniums in terracotta pots outside blue and purple painted houses.

We’re surrounded by pine-covered slopes that head steeply up towards the butterfly forests, somewhere around the 3000 m mark, but I don't yet know how much further we have to go to find them. The road from here just seems to wind up and up into the hills.

Outside the hotel now there's a camera crew unloading gear -- we're certainly not the first to come here on the monarch trail. The tourist industry is big as well and there are vans painted in the monarch's orange and black colours and kiosks offering guided tours. And for me at the moment there’s a mixture of excitement at the prospect of seeing one of the great natural wonders, and nervousness that either it won’t live up to the glossy media images or that I'll be more aware of the butterfly watchers than the butterflies. I've also been reading some pretty shocking things about the threat from logging, and I want to find out more.

Meeting scientist, Chip Taylor, in a couple of days. He's involved in a program to tag butterflies and follow their journey -- I know -- I can't imagine what kind of tag you can put on such a flimsy insect, but I'll find out. Will keep you posted look out for the photos and video too.

Grant

Further Reading:

Next report: Running with Monarchs Part II

User comments

Lee McOwan
Hello again, I have just reported seeing a Viceroy Butterfly in North Wales but on researching further I see that it was a Monarch. I have a digital photo if that is of interest. Is it usual to see one of these in Great Britain?Lee McOwan LOCATION: 53.2849,-3.7573 DATE: Tue, 7 Oct 2008 13:38:19 UTC WOtM team: This is very interesting especially as we've had several rare North American birds in the last few days. They could be arriving on the same weather fronts. Other birds including a Scarlet Tanager (ultra-rare) and a Little Blue Heron (first for Europe) in Ireland are both still around.

Gail Jolley
Thank you for educating the public about this topic. At home we are doing our tiny little bit by planting milkweed. LOCATION: 35.5836,-82.5348 DATE: Sat, 20 Sep 2008 13:57:37 UTC

Gary
Love the photos on this page. I listened to the podcast about the Monarch Butterflies which is why i came to this site. Great show. LOCATION: 50.8337,-0.7828 DATE: Sun, 30 Mar 2008 19:13:05 GMT

Constance
Wonderful programme. The depth of subject matter is always educational and a pleasure to tine in to. Thank you. LOCATION: 43.1571,-79.4888 DATE: Tue, 11 Mar 2008 04:02:50 UTC

Sarah Dain
I love this guys voice! LOCATION: 52.2059,-1.8677 DATE: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 14:40:19 GMT

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