Sunset with monarch tree

It was about this tree, to the right, that a solitary monarch flew out in the warm wind today.

I had to mow the yards about the ranch house this afternoon.  Brown grass ignites quickly when the wind is strong and humidity low.  I leave strips of dead vegetation — grass, shrubs, even broom grass — for small birds flitting among the stalks and even a field mouse running through the arbor they find protective.

As I mowed about this live oak tree, pictured first and above, a solitary monarch butterfly came out flapping, perturbed it seemed at the roar of motor.  It is November 21, 2010, and the monarch needs to be across the Rio Grande!  Not here!  The butterfly flitted around the tree.  There is flowering verbena still in the pastures for their food.  I mowed around the patches of verbena this afternoon before I saw the monarch.  I hoped the monarch would go back and roost.  It was close to the sunset.

After mowing, I fed Star and Lilly and fetched the camera, hoping I could find the monarch and present incontrovertible evidence that they are still migrating.  The tree is relatively large and many options for a sleep-over are convenient for the monarch, and after searching for five minutes or so, I gave up trying to find the little guy and took a photograph of the tree, having to use the flash.  The monarch may be in the photo or it flew southward, to the left of the light, for Mexico and warmer climes.

The monarch would have angled far left of this sunset. Mexico is about 300 miles due south, but the standard roosts for the monarch are much farther.



Filed under Life in Balance

6 responses to “Sunset with monarch tree

  1. Your post allows vicarious experience of a different habitat and different chores to do.

    When I have been on the south Texas Gulf Coast, Live Oaks were such interesting trees. Here you show their good “cover” potential.

    Pink clouds behind Live Oak suggest Monarch.

  2. Kittie Howard

    That’s an amazing sunset, Jack. Is it possible that this monarch was in the dying stage? On NatGeo’s Great Migrations they showed how the monarchs had little time to lay their eggs before they died. Do you have that toxic milkweed on your farm? The video said the monarchs had to eat this plant. Anyway, the film footage of the monarchs filling the Mexican sky is incredible…they return to the same trees each year. Mother Nature is an incredible lady. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Jack.

    • Kittie: Yes, we do have the milkweed. The far field has several stands of it. The horses will not eat it if there is plentiful grass around. I’ve got to see that NatGeo’s film. Mother Nature is incredible. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Kittie. I’ll be over to visit on your blog soon. Thank you for the awards you have given my way. I am thinking about making up an award that I can pass out during the year for Very Fine Writing, so that I can give recognition to nature writing on the web. Again, Happy Holidays!

  3. Hej Jack! Thank you for these great pictures. I have “investigated” the tree and clicked each corner large! But I cannot find the Monarch. Maybe it flew down south very fast.
    A beautiful sunset.
    I have found your ranch on Google Earth from your infos now. A fine place. I’m amazed to see so many lakes in the area. I think I can see the “duck lake” too. When you go farther west the land looks dry, but in your land are trees and water. Good for the animals too. For dear Lilly!
    I must say that if you have forgotten to buy coffee, then you’ve got a long way to go!! Fort Worth or Abilene…. there’s no little shop around the corner!
    I saw Ford Worth in 3D.
    Cheers and a hug to Lilly.

    • Grethe: Yes, there are a number of lakes or ponds around. They are, of course, all man-made, but they provide a water source for wild and domesticated animals. You are correct about going farther west and hitting drier climate. The closest supermarket is twenty-six miles away in Stephenville to the south of us, but we usually make the trek into Fort Worth for coffee and supplies — that’s about seventy miles away.

      I could not find the Monarch either. Kittie, in her comment, may have it correct that perhaps the butterfly was in the dying stage. He was a hearty guy, nonetheless.

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