Feliz Cumpleanos! Lucky Boy Ranch Tag Team Hits Monarch Butterfly Motherlode For Monika’s Birthday Weekend

It was Monarch Butterflies everywhere, all the time, for Monika’s Monarch birthday weekend this year. After a frustrating 2007 season, 10/13/08 seemed our lucky day with hordes of Monarch butterflies roosting along the Llano River, a full moon, a birthday chrysalis, and back-to-back birthday cakes. Friends and family pitched in to tag 500 Monarch butterflies in just several hours and could easily have exceeded last year’s unmet goal of 1,000. Too bad we ran out of tags!

Our neighbors, the Singletons, tagged 1,200 at their place.

Our crew of Monarch maniacs competed to see who could snag the most in a single swing: Monika started with 15; David quickly surpassed that by netting 26; then Clint came along and outdid us both by nabbing 35 Monarchs in one swoop.

While Nick and Bob cleared cedar and weedwhacked the river path, Jen, Tim, Nancy, Nona, Tristan, Tanner, Oma and Opa all pitched in to net and tag. Cocoa and Sufy helped, too.

Given the high volume of Monarchs, we tried a new strategy this year. After netting them, we stashed them in our nifty butterfly cage and retreated to the porch for communal, assembly line tagging.

Never have we seen them here this thick. David, who once guided tours in Angangueo, Mexico, the special preserve where the Monarch butterflies go home to roost for the winter, described the phenom as “orange snow.” Jen walked the trail and sighed “enchanting.” Clint: “it’s more amazing than I ever imagined.” To get an idea of what it’s like to flush a cluster of Monarch butterflies, watching them float up and scatter like silent tiny quail, check out this 12-second video clip.

You honestly couldn’t walk for five minutes without seeing a Monarch butterfly. One even slurped at our hummingbird feeder. On Wednesday, Hugh and Matt joined us and and Hugh kayaked over to the “monarch spot.” “It’s magic,” he quipped.

And so it was. What a delight to finally share the experience with my dearest friends and family. It was the best birthday present ever.

Gracias a todos for making it so special.

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