During the warm sunny days of October, the trees of Big Sur and Pacific Grove welcome visitors who have traveled great distances to reach clusters of trees along the central California coast; monarch butterflies, with their flashing bold orange and black wings flitting from tree to tree bring an extra bit of magic to an already beautiful place.
Monarch butterflies gathered in Pacific Grove, California, late February 2016
Migrating monarch butterflies gather in the forests of Pacific Grove, California
Seeing one butterfly alone is a beautiful sight, but as the monarch butterflies congregate on mossy branches and in the boughs of cypress and eucalyptus trees, their gathering numbers create a stunning, delicate and lively tapestry of colour and movement.
October is my favourite time of year to camp in Big Sur; one morning as the sun warmed the campsite I sat contemplating the beautiful light and quiet forest, a small group of monarch butterflies flitted through the lower branches overhead, dancing through patches of sunlight as they fed and rested. As their movement is rather unpredictable, I waited patiently as they moved in and out of focus and finally managed to capture the image below of a single butterfly in flight.
A migrating monarch butterfly feeds in the forests of Big Sur, California
Over the years I have visited the spots known for congregations of migrating monarchs, and I have gathered all of my monarch butterfly photographs into one gallery, with many Monarch Butterfly Migration images available for licensing and as fine art prints.
“February in Salinas is likely to be damp and cold and full of miseries. The heaviest rains fall then, and if the river is going to rise, it rises then.”
– John Steinbeck, from ‘East of Eden’
This past February did not bring much rain, and the Salinas River has barely risen from its meandering, often subterranean channel. However, as the season settles into March and the inevitable fresh growth of spring emerges, the bare fields are taking on new life.
The transition from dark fields heavy with damp and fertile soil combed into meticulous rows to brightly-banded horizons of fresh green and early flowers is a welcome sign that despite the crippling California drought, for now, things will continue as we tend to think they should.
From a recent Saturday morning in Monterey – went whale watching on a particularly windy, bright day. Only two whales were spotted, and due to the pitching rise and fall of the relentless ocean swell, I only managed a few photos of whales. However, sunny moments like this stern sunbathing seagull perched on a rusting fishing boat, were easy to come by in the sheltered harbour.
Once several miles out to the edge of the bay, I did enjoy the shifting textural landscape of the windswept water, and managed a few lucky shots of some rare birds skimming the waves. Here’s the view of the California coastline, as we motored out in search of the whales…
As with many things, the rest of the photos from this adventure will have to wait, as I dedicate more time to preparing for some upcoming work. I think this trip out to sea was much-needed, as I came back to land feeling refreshed and energized by so much fresh air and bracing cold salt spray.