Monarch Watch Blog

A Monarch Watch Visit to the Monarch Reserves in Mexico

Friday, March 27th, 2009 at 4:31 pm by Chip Taylor
Filed under Mexico | 8 Comments »

Some months ago Dennis Curtin, a writer of ebook instruction manuals on how to use specific cameras, contacted us concerning an ebook he is creating about monarchs. One communication and idea led to another as we discussed the development and marketing of his book. One of the book’s deficiencies at first draft was an absence of coverage of the overwintering monarch colonies in Mexico, and the obvious solution was to invite Denny, with his great camera skills, to join us on our March trip to Mexico. We learned a lot about Denny on this trip. Not only does he have a camera at hand most of the time, but he is a compulsive blogger. Each morning as I awoke I found him hunched over his computer punching out words with two fingers to capture the events of the previous day. Denny has compiled all of these daily jottings along with a kazillion photos into a journal describing the whole adventure:

A Monarch Watch Visit to the Monarch Reserves in Mexico, March 2009
(20MB PDF file, 127pp)

If you have ever been to the Monarch Reserves, you will recognize many of the scenes and you can relive part of your experience through Denny’s pictures. For those who haven’t been to the Reserves, this journal is a sample of what you will see once you get there.

Christine Merlin was also along on this trip. Christine has a PhD from France where she worked on the daily rhythm of sensitivity of a moth’s antennae to pheromones. Christine is now a post-doctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she and the members of Dr. Reppert’s team are trying to unravel the molecular/genetic basis of the orientation behavior and navigation exhibited by monarchs during their migration. I met Christine during a visit to Dr. Reppert’s laboratory in February of 2008. At that time Christine indicated a passionate desire to visit the monarch overwintering sites so that she could get a real sense of the phenomenon she is studying.

Ann Ryan, whom many of you know if you have communicated with Monarch Watch, also made the trip as did Janis Lentz, a high school teacher from Weslaco, Texas. Janis has worked behind the scenes for Monarch Watch for years and years.

While I enjoyed the entire trip, and this agreeable bunch, I had a side adventure: I spent 4 extraordinary days working with a film crew funded by Disney at El Rosario. It was total monarch immersion, all day every day, from 6AM to 7PM. The film crew was the largest I’ve worked with and there were three cameras going most of the time. The footage will be spectacular and like no other on monarchs to date.

Disney has commissioned a series of nature films, and this film about pollination and pollinators is scheduled for theaters in 2010-2011. The working title for the film is “Naked Beauty” – but the bets are the title will be changed in time to something like “Nature’s Beauty: A love story that feeds the world”. The film’s message is important and timely. Nature’s beauty, as represented by numerous pollinators and the fruits, nuts, berries, and seeds that are the products of their efforts, will be skillfully and dramatically presented through the masterful direction and loving eye of the film’s director, Louie Schwartzberg.

  1. 8 Responses to “A Monarch Watch Visit to the Monarch Reserves in Mexico”

  2. By Nancy Hackbart on May 1, 2009

    Every year I have tagged monarchs one has made it to Mexico. Except I can’t find my certificates for the first 2. I am so thrilled that mine have made it down there.
    Whooo hoooo.
    Thank you very much for this wonderful experience.

  3. By Jeff Childs on May 16, 2009

    Our monarch waystation began very slowly last year,then one day we all yelled……there here! We were visited every day until they began their trip south. Each monarch came by our garage ,which faces east , and came over the garden. The garden is on the south side of the house . Not all of them stopped , but they all flew southwest one at a time until we lost count. Fascinating.
    Jeff and Bonnie Childs (Paw Paw , Illinois)

  4. By johan on Jun 21, 2009

    We spotted our first Monarch Butterfly in our garden today, here in Flat Rock, Michigan… June 21, 2009. G & Joh

  5. By Kay Cheaney on Sep 8, 2009

    I visited Angangaou 20/09 and was absolutely amazed at what I saw. Thanks for the great links.
    Kay Cheaney Stillwater, OK

  6. By diane chesko on Sep 14, 2009

    We would like to visit the Monarch Reserves in Mexico. What is the best way to plan a trip?

  7. By jan fuller on Oct 25, 2009

    I live in Saltillo, Coahuila mexico. Thisa is a major route for the migration towards Michoacan. Today just at sunset I went to the park, and saw over 100 all clustered on a mesqite tree. I had never seen that at the precise moment before. The nights are cool here now, down to 50ºF, but the days sunny and warmish. The wild sunflowers are in bloom. Un happily the vacant lots are being cleared and cleaned more often. This cuts way down on their AM feeding.

    Happy flying.

  8. By Sharon Favorito on Nov 9, 2009

    I live in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Last week I saw a few Monarchs for several days. Yesterday I went on a day trip to Pena de Bernal in the state of Queretaro. For several miles of the trip,about 2 hours from where I live the sky was filled with hundreds flying south. I had never seen so many in the sky at one time. I also visited Anganguao, in Jan, 2006. It was the most amazing sight I have ever seen. The way I describe it is: when 1 butterfly flies you do not hear it, but when thousands take to the sky at once you can hear their wings in the silence of the forest.

  9. By Gwen Perez on Apr 17, 2010

    My ex-husband is from Morelia, Michoacan in Mexico. He always talked about the wonderful monarch butterflies there. He thought that we did not have them here in Illinois-wrong! Anyway the great number of monarch butterflies is the reason for the name of their popular soccer team, “Las Monarcas de Morelia”.

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