[Tweeters] Port Townsend Monarch

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Jun 27 09:13:10 PDT 2016

On saturday June 25 , I was sitting at my client's kitchen table, chatting and eating lunch and looking out the window at the bird feeders, when I spotted it.This was at my landscape project at Cape George (Port Townsend address) which looks out on Protection Island.
Anyhoo, sitting there I suddenly noted a big Swallowtail-sized butterfly - but orange not yellow - "Hey that's a Monarch!" I excitedly exclaimed to myself. Yes, I know this is not really Monarch territory, and that if you see something (bird, butterfly, etc. outside it's typical range, it's highly unlikely thats what your seeing - but strange things do happen. Just go to Neah Bay.
Despite having seen many Monarchs, I was still a doubting Jeffery, so I double-checked my copy Mr. Pyle's excellent book this morning and realized I was correct - there was nothing else that fit the bill. The bug was backlit as it flew by and was orange winged thru and thru. It also flew like Monarch's I'd see migration in the Middle East (from a Puget Sounders perspective - Easterners call it the Midwest ) - flying up well above all the low trees here, and obviously heading somewhere southward.
The Monarch was coming from the direction of Victoria, and Vancouver Island where, according to Pyle, they have been found. Could a Monarch cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca? Probably . Once one fall on the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin I was looking out over vast Lake Michigan (much larger that Puget Sound) trying to spot birds, when I noted a tiny bird way way out offshore - I could barely see it, but it was headed my way from the East so I waited (quite awhile) and was surprised to find it was a Mourning Cloak butterfly. I don't know if it crossed the lake from Michigan, but it crossed a whole lot of water while I watched it, flying strong. That was pretty cool.
So yup, it was a Monarch at Cape George, blown off-course maybe, or looking for Milkweed in all the wrong places.
Jeff Gibsonwatching bugs inPort Townsend Wa
PS: Mr. Pyle's excellent book "The Butterflies of Cascadia" was published by Seattle Audubon - one of the many resources they've provided for the greater good over the organizations 100 years. Happy anniversary SAS.

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