As I strolled along the beach at Barnegat Lighthouse, Monarch butterflies flew in from the ocean constantly, usually in pairs but sometimes in groups of four or five. They flew too fast for me to get any picture. They landed here and there among the vegetation for a few seconds before flying again toward the waystation where butterfly bushes with their pink and purple flowers and berries provide needed nourishment for the rest of their journey.
Every fall, Eastern Monarch butterflies migrate down the Eastern seaboard before veering toward Texas and eventually settling in the Oyamel fir tree forests west of Mexico City in the states of Michoacán and Mexico. They will spend the winter there before flying North again in the spring. On the West Coast, Monarchs only spend the winter along the California coast and do not fly to Mexico. Monarchs in southern Florida do not migrate at all.
Monarchs have done this annual migration for millions of years, and hopefully will continue to do so for millions more.
I took the photos below after a first batch more than a week ago. These Monarchs seem to be younger, more energetic, and I only saw one with a slightly damaged wing.
A Northern Mockingbird followed me around the waystation, maybe because it wanted to protect its nest somewhere in the bushes.
If you want to learn more about Monarch migration, here’s a good link: https://monarchjointventure.org/monarch-biology/monarch-migration