Report from Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project.
Tremendous numbers of monarchs have been at Cape May Point for the last 4 days, feeding on seaside goldenrod along the dunes and in various gardens around town. Roosts of up to 1200 have been found in the late afternoons. It's impossible to come up with anything resembling an accurate count; 10,000 is certainly low.
Additional notes posted 10/12/20: We had seven consecutive days with a lot of monarchs here, which is quite unusual — usually when we see a big spike in numbers it decreases within 2 or 3 days. We watched a lot departing on day 5, but more arrived that day and the numbers stayed very high. Today (10/12/20) is day 8 and it’s very rainy and windy - it will be interesting to see how many monarchs will be around when the weather clears.
We found between 5 and 10 roosting clusters each night, and often would hear about a roosting group that we hadn’t found the next day. One of our team members methodically counted one of the clusters and came up with 1200. I feel quite certain that 10,000 is a conservative estimate.
During the day we were seeing monarchs nectaring on seaside goldenrod, which grows abundantly on the dunes and upper beach, all the way from Cape May Point to the east end of Cape May City, more than 2 miles distant. They were also actively nectaring in gardens on flowers such as New England Aster, Mexican Sunflower, Zinnias, Coneflowers, etc., on the flowers of Butterfly Bush and Crape Myrtle, and on the flowers of English Ivy vines, the latter flowers seemingly more than ever. You couldn’t go anywhere within 100 meters of the coast without seeing a lot of monarchs in the air.
Temperatures have remained relatively warm throughout this period, so not all monarchs formed roosting clusters overnight, some just settled into the vegetation along the dunes and in other habitats near the shore, while others did cluster — and those roosting clusters occurred in a variety of plants, including pines, junipers, aspens, and even right in the ivy vines. We found roosts from the extreme SW corner of Cape May Point east to Cape May Point State Park, and we heard of roosts about 2 miles north near the shores of Delaware Bay, an area known as Town Bank. There were no doubt some roosting clusters in Cape May City as well, but we didn’t search there.
Most of the days through this stretch were a bit warmer than the seasonal average with sunny or mostly sunny conditions, winds ranged from light to moderate, from the northwest many days but switching to the southwest several times.
Cape May Monarch Monitoring Project Website
Cape May Point, NJ
Latitude: 38.9 Longitude: -75
Observed by: Mark
The observer's e-mail address will not be disclosed.
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