There were literally hundreds of monarchs along a 2-mile stretch of Sargent Beach/San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge on March 12th in the couple of hours I was there. The monarchs were mainly moving from west to east down the shoreline. Many were mated. They were also nectaring some.
After about 3:30 they started spiraling up in pairs. Around 25 pairs were seen in the mating position either flying (with one butterfly flying, the other suspended below) or resting on bushes. These activities were constant around us as we traveled from east to west along the shoreline.
The habitat was sand and mixed sea shells predominately, with some clay mixed in at spots. Bitter panicum, cordgrasses, and sea oats are the predominate grasses. Pollen sources include: Indianblanket (Gaillardia pulchella), camphor daisy ( Machaeranthera phyllocephala), Beach Evening Primrose (Oenothera drummondii), and Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) with the Showy Primrose and Indianblanket being the predominate flowers.
Here is a summary of my movements while in the area that I observed the Monarchs:
1:00 pm: Stationary ~20 minutes 8-10 monarchs seen
1:30 pm: Moving-25 minutes, no monarchs seen while traveling the beach proper
2:00 - 4:00 pm Stationary 2 hours 15-20 monarchs seen (was on beach)
4:00 -4:45 pm The bulk (150+ monarchs) were seen while I was traveling slowly <10 mph behind dunes on A dirt trail. There were 15-20 Monarchs in sight at all times in a strip extending possibly 40 yds either side of trail. (There may have been many more but was not focused out past that.)
4:45 - 5:00 pm I saw 5 monarchs while loading utv on trailer.
We traveled back to the same area on March 17th hoping to spot more. During the 2.5 hours we were there, we saw only the one monarch (pictured above). Notice it’s on a Showy Primrose and the thick amount of pollen on the monarch.
Sargent Beach is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, on the western edge of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.
Bay City, TX
Latitude: 28.8 Longitude: -95.5
Observed by: Mike
The observer's e-mail address will not be disclosed.
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