Posts Tagged ‘Monarch Butterfly’

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.


Watching for Monarch Butterflies and Texas Horned Toads at Lucky Boy Ranch

September 23, 2008

It’s been a feast or famine season for weather, with an intense drought busted by some relief-providing rains…and that means there’s nectar waiting for this season’s Monarch Butterflies.

A gang of us will head out this weekend to see what we find.  We have 500 tags, a net for every taker, and high hopes of nabbing the elusive creatures.    Three weeks ago we spotted tens of Monarchs along the river, and plenty of eggs on the swamp milkweed.  Stay tuned for a full report.

Meanwhile, who would have guessed that in addition to the illustrious Monarchwatch, the organization that started the Monarch tagging project, there is also a Horned Toad Lizard Watch? 

Horned Toads Make Occasional Appearnces at Lucky Boy Ranch

Horned Toads Make Occasional Appearances at Lucky Boy Ranch

It’s true.   In 1997, Texas Parks and Wildlife began tracking the appearance of Horned Toads, affectionately known by Texans as the “Horny Toad.”   We’ve noticed the funny lizards (the official state reptile) seem to have declined in abundance over the years.  Read the 10-year summary of Horned Toad spottings here.

The good news is that Lucky Boy has a steady supply of Carpenter Ants, which is the Horned Toad’s primary food source.   This may explain why we’re seeing more of the horned reptiles of late.   Just in the last two years, we’ve had three sightings–one just last weekend by Nick and his crew.  Thanks to Lilliana Fields for the fine photo.

So…if we ever tire of tagging Monarchs (unlikely), we can always track Horned Toads.