Letter from Estela
El Rosario Sanctuary
El Rosario | Sierra Chincua

Journey North

Monarch butterfly at sanctuary in Mexico in snow.

"A wonderful scenery with hundreds of monarchs scattered at the Oyamel trees, thousands flying downstream, others thirsty and crowding at the small streams or ponds drinking water… No clusters, no time for it!" wrote Estela.
Rio Grande forest near El Rosario Santuary March 19, 2017


Many Remain at El Rosario, Too!

March 28, 2017

Dear Friends,

So here we go from surprise to surprise!

As I drove to El Rosario today, as soon as some children recognize my brave VW car, Rocinante, they shout and come to me and ask:

“Estelita, have you seen monarchs are still at the sanctuaries? After what it seemed to be a massive leaving a couple of weeks ago, now they kind of slowed down and every day a few of them pass by northwards as if not being in a hurry to migrate to the north! We remember last year they had already left!” Mario, Silvestre, Juan, Manuel and Lupita told me.

As of today at El Rosario Sanctuary, I discovered monarchs are distributed into two colony sites, Los Conejos and Las Balsitas — and clustering as if it were mid-end of February!!

At the first colony site, monarchs are clustering just right behind the fence of Oyamel trees at the end of “Llano de los Conejos.” No need to make a walk into the forest even! They are just right behind the green curtain of Oyamel trees you see when you reach Llano de los Conejos, without imagining they are just right behind at the entrance of the forest area!

Here in this first colony, I counted 30 trees, but they could have been even more than 30, perhaps 40 trees with the spread monarchs flying lively all around, making small explosions and mating really actively! Clusters were from very small to small to medium. The clusters were not extremely dense, but still looking somewhat dense, anyway. Perishing on the ground seemed just within the normal conditions and numbers.

Then, the guide took me downhill, northwards, towards “Las Balsitas” site. Another beautiful and very similar performance to that of “Llano de los Conejos.”Here, I could count around 15-18 trees  exactly with the same characteristics and distribution in clustering, mating, perishing, exploding… just the same, but a smaller colony.

My guide confirmed to me that the sanctuaries are officially closing on Friday, March 31st, but they are getting permission to keep sanctuaries open until Sunday April 2nd.

Will monarchs stand it up to next Sunday? It seems so! But they could simply decide to leave earlier, before the coming weekend! How to know? It seems we should continue to keep a really close eye on them!
The monarchs have been so wonderfully capricious this year… a wonderful year indeed, both in population, in performance, in attracting thousands and thousands of visitors from all over!

The year 2017 has been an exceptional season in so many aspects! Researchers should be reassuring the so many impressions and observations from so many locals, visitors, specialists, students, institutes, foundations…

That is how I left the monarchs Sanctuary of El Rosario today, amidst a feeling of joy and surprise to see monarchs seem to be still enjoying to the uttermost being at their overwintering sites, in spite of the pretty unusually bright sun that for several weeks has been shining in our region.

Life in our region comes now back to the quiet, relaxed pace to go for the next eight months.  Parents work hard to provide a living to their families.  Children will attend school until July before going on summer vacation.

Until next fall when I report to you again, I remain,

Estela Romero
Reporter for Journey North
Angangueo, Michoacán, México
March 28, 2017


Los Conejos Site
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico

More from Los Conejos site...

Las Balsitas Site
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico
Monarch Butterflies at Sanctuary in Mexico

More from Las Balsitas site...

Map: Location of monarch butterfly overwintering region in Mexico
Sanctuary Locations

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