Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monarchs of the Superstitions

As the weather gets colder, millions of monarch butterflies begin a southward migration. You may have heard of it; it's one of North America's most famous animal migrations. Throughout October, monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains head south into Mexico, eventually gathering in huge numbers in the high elevation pine forests in Michoacán. Monarchs west of the Rockies head south and overwinter in various warm locations. I was happy, though not surprised, to see many monarchs hanging out in the turpentine bushes along the trails of the Superstition Mountains. They weren't alone, either. Many bushes and wildflowers were in bloom and alive with bees, butterflies, beetles and moths. I spent most of time photographing the transient monarchs, but of course I had to take a couple shots of Weaver's Needle and a curious hawk.
downward wingstroke
double monarchs
monarch butterflies
Trail Signs
I think I attracted this hawk when I scared up a dozen or so Gambel's Quail along the trail. It watched me from atop a saguaro for a bit, then hovered around me for a while, possibly hoping I'd scare up a quick meal.
Black Mesa view
Weaver's Needle is in the upper right.

I ran across a few petroglyphs too. Always a neat find.
yellow butterfly


jamie courteau bates said...

such beautiful photos...and such a beautiful landscape. makes me wanna visit!!!

Honey Girl said...

What?... No posts about Ham (K)nots!?!?! Just kiddin'! ;)
Oh and real petroglyphs = Freakin' cool!

Eric said...


@Jamie - Never been to AZ? Sunrise and sunset are a photographer's dream. The light is perfect. It's really bright most of the time, though. These were taken about an hour before sunset.

@Em - Ham(Not!) has been forever condemned to the landfill where it belongs. Nastiest stuff ever.

Vazrick said...

These are not Monarchs, but Queesn (Danaus gilippus): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_(butterfly)