Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report! title=
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!
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By Robert Bernstein

This is usually the peak season for the Monarch Butterflies at the Ellwood Main butterfly grove. Here are my photos there this week.

I am sorry to say there are just two small clusters of butterflies hanging near the main viewing spot:

This lone butterfly was perched on the log bench at the viewing spot

For years there has been concern that butterfly numbers are declining. Back in 1989 counts began and I participated in that first count. We put tiny tags on butterfly wings. UC San Diego was organizing the counts at that time.

Here is the last data that I was able to find for the population count. The credit for this chart goes to Dan Meade and the City of Goleta.

I will keep checking back to see how the numbers change during this wintering season!

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monarchsabernet Dec 27, 2018 12:50 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

The photos show monarchs clustered at Ellwood Main. But the butterflies may also be clustered at Ellwood West, East or North. Author needs to check those groves too.

popcorn Dec 23, 2018 12:45 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

I so enjoyed going to Ellwood in the past, when there were masses of monarchs to be seen. As much as seeing the butterflies, it was a pleasure to watch others marvel at these tiny 0.026 ounce wonders. I began a quest to learn about more about them. A website that is informative is www.monarchwatch.org and a wonderful book is "Four Wings and a Prayer" by Sue Halpern (wife of environmentalist Bill McKibben). An interesting fact: The colors of butterflies are not due to pigmentation but due to the structure of the tiny diamond-shaped scales + how light refracts off them.

biguglystick Dec 23, 2018 12:04 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

If the grove is closed and there are signs, WHY the heck is anyone going in and WHY would you be giving advice about how to get in? Seems irresponsible at best, disrespectful of nature and kind of lame. Respect our native wildlife. Preserve. Protect and leave it ALONE.

tagdes Dec 23, 2018 07:43 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

Because the signs and closure are solely PYA for the city. No one is going to arrest you for going in but if you are injured or worse by one of the dreaded Eucs they are in the clear. Our presence does not negatively affect the native wildlife. Get a grip.

Flicka Dec 23, 2018 10:36 AM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

We had a habitat here in Carpinteria along Carpinteria Creek, it even had the 2nd highest count in SB County. The owner wanted to trim the over 100 ft trees but the City forbid him to even cut a branch. Two or 3 weeks later 12 trees blew over, including the butterflies' favorite ones. Now there are a handful of Monarchs coming.

a-1560786063 Dec 22, 2018 11:30 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

About those butterfly tags: When tagging first started, it was soon apparent that the tags (paper) were retaining moisture and the butterflies wings were tearing due to the weight of the tags. It looks like that problem was resolved. Oddly enough, I cannot find anything online about the screw-up w/ the tags of many years ago. Decades ago there was a Monarch butterfly expert (name escapes me) who was at the Coranado Preserve. When someone asked him about the tagging snafu he got pretty darn shirty about it. Glad to see that's worked out okay for the butterflies. I hope we can save these beautiful creatures so that future generations may enjoy them as we have.

420722 Dec 22, 2018 11:15 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

For all the rule followers the grove is actually closed as is almost all of the eucalyptus “forest” of ellwood. There are signs everywhere and even the internet marks this location as closed. Just ignore them I guess??? Purple bee, take caution and a friend just in case.

420722 Dec 23, 2018 03:31 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

Biguglystick FYI: I was being sarcastic when I said should we just ignore the fact that it’s closed. Wasn’t offering advise on how to get in but if people are going to regardless they should at least take caution. Why aren’t you on the OPs back about this, he’s the one in the closed grove taking pictures enticing people to go in not me!

biguglystick Dec 23, 2018 12:04 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

If the grove is closed and there are signs, WHY the heck is anyone going in and WHY would you be giving advice about how to get in? Seems irresponsible at best, disrespectful of nature and kind of lame. Respect our native wildlife. Preserve. Protect and leave it ALONE.

PurpleBee Dec 22, 2018 06:43 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

I've wanted to go out there for years and never made it. Thanks to you I am more motivated to go this time. How would you rate the trail for someone with a cane?

a-1560786063 Dec 22, 2018 11:18 PM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

PURPLEBEE: It depends on your mobility. How do you fare on inclines and lumpy dirt trails? I have taken older friends to see the butterflies, and it was a joyous thing for all. However, there is a bit of an incline as soon as you get out of your car (Coronado Dr.). Park right where you see the sign for the butterflies on Coronado. Don't even try to park further down and walk the trail that way----it is sandy and probably even a bit soggy right now. After that first incline, then there's the "climb" up to the butterflies is a bit much for anyone with compromised lungs or weak legs. Take a sturdy someone with you, take it slowly and see how you go. There is a wonderful wooden bridge installed so that one and all can cross the creek easily. I hope you get to go. Even if there are only 200-300 butterflies, it's still a sight to behold.

a-1560786063 Dec 22, 2018 10:51 AM
Monarchs at Ellwood: First Report!

A few weeks ago, a friend reported seeing them on eucalyptus trees near the 8th hole at the disc golf course at Evergreen Park. I haven't checked, so I don't know if they're still there.

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