Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Milwaukee County Grounds update: the Monarch Trail is aflutter!

Last evening, as I pulled into the Parks Administration building’s parking lot and drove to the back corner, there were over a dozen cars already lined up along the edge closest to the beginning of the Monarch Trail. The word must be out!

I took the short cut across the open field, cleared for UWM’s planned developments there. I walked through the knee-high clover and grasses towards the Eschweiler buildings and the inviting stands of trees around them. The sun had disappeared behind a huge thunderhead that seemed poised to expand across the whole sky and glowed red around its edges. I saw people strolling along the Trail atop the berms adjacent to Swan Blvd.

As I neared the Eschweiler campus I caught up with LuAnn, one of the Monarch Trail regulars, and her niece Kailey. They led me to a small group of Milkweed in front of the main administration building where they’d seen a praying mantis before. Sure enough, there it was. Kailey scooped it up gently and it skittered nervously up her arm. She put it back onto the nearest Milkweed where it quickly scuttled under a leaf and clung there as the plant bobbed in the breeze.

[Click on images to enlarge.]

Barb Agnew, the director of the Monarch Trail saw us and called to come see, quick! She was near the giant sycamore tree that the Monarchs favor. She was excited because there were several clumps of butterflies already roosting in the lower branches of the box elders surrounding the sycamore. There were also six or seven people treading carefully among the tall grasses and raspberry bushes on the well worn paths to see them.

I was surprised and delighted to see my friends Joyce and Darthe with their two furry dogs, who told me that this was their first trip out to the Trail. I told them how lucky they were to come on such an auspicious night. More butterflies fluttered in by the minute now that the sun was down and the light dimming quickly. As each new Monarch flew up to a branch laden with already resting ones, the whole clump would startle, opening their wings briefly before settling back into roosting posture. It was a marvelous sight.

A warm wind blew in from the south and west in gusts cutting the humidity and keeping down the mosquitoes. The perfect evening to view the migration, I thought. Barb looked at me even more excitedly and said “No, no! These are local butterflies. The migration hasn’t reached here yet. This is going to be a very good year!”

As it darkened and we began to leave, Kailey show up again with a second mantis. This one posed like a debutante for the photographers, as you can see.

For my previous post on the recent Monarch Trail sunset/moonrise celebration, click here.

For more pictures of the County Grounds, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I was in the childrens home in the early 1970's, I know the building was torn down, I know the building sat on a hill and behind the building was a power plant. I would love to view old photos of the building.