Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Starfish and Monarch Butterflies

It is hard to believe that California is so heavily populated when one tours its countryside as John and I did yesterday. Much of the area surrounding us is made up of large rolling hills and seashore. An occasional house and/or ranch buildings may dot the landscape.In this immediate locality are many state and municipal parks. We drove to Montana De Oro State Park yesterday. That park, with over 8,000 acres plus seven miles of shoreline, is one of the largest state parks in California. Our goal in going there yesterday was to explore the tide pools. It was fun hiking over the eroded marine terraces on the Bluffs Trail to get to the pools. Over time layers of sedimentary rock have arisen out of the ocean and formed this rocky shoreline.
It was a sunny day with a gorgeous blue sky. We have seen tide pools before, but, when looking into the tide pools here, I am again impressed by all the little life existing in them. We saw lots of hermit crabs and snails moving around in the pools as well as the ever-present sea anemone. Starfish are supposed to be abundant in these tide pools so we looked hard for them, and found a couple.
Even with it being Monday there were quite a few people in the park hiking, biking, and even hang gliding.
From Montana De Oro state park we drove to Pismo state park where a lot of Monarch butterflies are supposed to be hanging out. It is their last stop in their trip from Canada, across the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada range to balmy Pismo Beach. An average of 75,000 come to this location each year. We did not see any massive numbers of them while we were there, apparently most of them have already started to head back north. Several generations of the butterfly are born and die before the trek back is completed.
I  had hopes of snapping a picture of massive numbers of them in flight, but that was not to be. I was able to at least get a shot of a couple of them who sat still  for a few seconds. Most of the time they are actively flitting around!
Yes, there are two butterflies in the pine tree, one is hanging upside down and showing the white underside of his wings. My last picture posted here was taken on our drive back to Murro Bay. It is pretty typical of the scenery which we had been enjoying much of the day.

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