Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

October 17, 2008

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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Five Monarch Butterflies Tagged as Monarch Season Gets Underway

October 1, 2008

Queen butterflies pose as Monarch butterflies at Lucky Boyr Ranch on the Llano River

Not quite Monarch butterflies,  Queen butterflies flooded Lucky Boy Ranch this weekend, captivating our crew and keeping tenacious taggers on their toes.  About two dozen Monarchs were spotted and we tagged five.  Three of those tagged were extremely ragged, highly unlikely  arrivals in Michoacan, Mexico.  
  
While Monarchs were conspicuously absent, Painted Ladies, Gulf Fritillaries, Pipevine and Eastern Black Swallowtails, as well as fresh hatches of Sulphurs feasted on the frostweed, goldenrod and cutleaf daisy provided by the Lucky Boy nectar fest.
The crew of Hugh, Jenny, Siobhan and Matt shared the weekend with Bob and Monika, which kicked off with the Presidential Debates at Bobhenge followed by cedar clearing, deer blind building and intermittent Monarch tagging and kayaking.  
Praying Mantis Eats a Bee on Frostweed on the banks of the Llano River.

Praying Mantis Eats a Bee on Frostweed on the banks of the Llano River.

Our clearing project along the riverbank has created a prime butterfly habitat, with nectar aplenty and butterflies in abundance.   From kayaks we even spotted some late season Texas Star and Purple Mistflower.    A global bee shortage?  Not this weekend.  Bees were ubiquitous and provided a reassuring hum, our own pagan soundtrack to the weekend.                                                                                 

A praying mantis chowed down on a honey bee, while Siobhan, Bob and Matt witnessed the diamondback watersnake at the Big Riffle.  More tagging coming soon, and high hopes for a thunderstorm and a cold front.

Wildlife Rumpus at Lucky Boy Captured

July 1, 2008

The most exciting thing to happen at Lucky Boy in a long time was the installation of a digital wildlife camera at the Arrowhead Road feeder.  The camera, activated by motion and heat, was a Father’s Day gift for Bob, but it turned out to be a present we all can enjoy.   Check out the slideshow, Lucky Boy Ranch Gone Wild!, a selection from the almost 2,000 photos taken in the first month.

The wild rumpus begins at Lucky Boy Ranch deer feeder.

Who would have thought a wildlife happy hour was unfolding just down the road from the ranchhouse?  Yep, while we kicked back on the porch, pigs, deer, turkeys and raccoons chowed down on scratch, peas, corn and antler mix, just a quarter-mile away.

The set-up would not have been possible without the help of our friend Clint, who picked it up for us at Cabella’s, installed it, and even provided a lesson on how to work it. Thanks, Clint!

Stay tuned for for wild rumpus updates from different Lucky Boy perspectives–the view from the river, a wildlife trail, in front of the ranchouse, and our various feeders.