Monarch Monitoring Project - 10/21/2008

Greetings everyone! This past week was our second best week to date for the season. Surveys average 53.87 monarchs/hour. That puts the cumulative average for the whole season at 38.01 monarchs/hour. In spite of cold temperatures, monarch numbers remained high. There were a few "mini-roosts" around the point containing groups of 5-20 monarchs. Although these roosts were small, it was a welcomed site for the volunteers at the MMP.

We are now done giving our tagging demonstrations at Cape May Point State Park. There will be three more given specifically for the upcoming Autumn Weekend. Look for us at the picnic table area at the state park this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2pm. Head coordinator Louise Zemaitis, will also be giving a special monarch presentation this Friday (Oct 24th) at 1pm in the Interpretive Center Classroom at the state park. Be sure to check her presentation out, you are bound to learn something new about monarchs!

Louise Zemaitis(above) and some new monarch fans

Here at the MMP we are often asked the question "why do you tag monarchs?" Well, there are many reasons. We want to know where our monarchs go. Do they make it all the way to the roosting grounds? What route do they take? How long does it take them? Tagging allows us to answer many of these questions. Just recently we had a monarch recovered that illustrates why we tag very well. I give you:

Speedy: The story of one determined Monarch

Speedy was tagged in Cape May on October 9, 2008 by Patsy Eickelburg, one of our most beloved volunteers. It was given the tag "LAA962". Patsy noted that LAA962 was a male in average condition, with a fat content of 4 (out of 5). It was feeding on aster when caught, and after tagging the monarch, and taking some measurements, Patsy set LAA962 free. Just three days later on October 12th a Mr. Hatfield of Harlem, GA notified Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch that he had spotted LAA962! Below is a map of the distance traveled (made by Dick Walton):

What an amazing feat! Winds on the 9th were from the S and SW, these are not ideal for crossing the bay. The next day winds shifted to the N and NW which makes us think that LAA962 didn't even leave the point until the morning of the 10th. So to fly 558 miles in about two days is incredible! This goes to show that when wind conditions are ideal (coming from the northwest) monarchs will travel great distances rather quickly. Hopefully LAA962 will continue on his way and make it to the roosting grounds in Mexico. Maybe we will hear from him again as he continues on his journey. No matter happens though, this example once again shows us why tagging monarchs is so important.

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