Tafoni and Monarch Butterflies

Having learned about the migration of the Monarch Butterflies last year in the UK, I was happy to discover they nested not too far from us during the winters.  We decided to take a drive down the coast to see them, so we drove over to the Half Moon Bay area and then headed south on Route 1 till we got to Santa Cruz.

We stopped at quite a few beaches on our way to see the Monarch Butterflies. Bean Hollow was our favourite-it had amazing tafoni features to see, rock-pooling with hermit crab and we had a picnic on the rocks near the ocean.

Our next major stop was at the old Pigeon Point Lighthouse.  They were having a special open day so a few things of interest to see.  I found a ranger who was able to identify some of the flowers for me and explained how the one I asked about, Ice Plant, was an invasive, non-native plant and they were making small steps to eradicate it near the lighthouse.

The last port of call was to see the Monarch Butterfly Grove at the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz.  It was wonderful to see them all, and this was only at the beginning of the migration, more will be coming soon.  We learnt that the Butterflies that return are actually the great-great-grandchildren of the original butterflies that left last spring.  Then we walked to the beach to see the Natural Bridges, well we saw one natural arch, I’m not too sure if there are more.  It was covered in Pelicans, and certainly smelt as if they had been covering it for decades!

On the drive home, we stopped at a few beaches to watch people kitesurfing and to see the sunset. Sadly, the clouds crept in just before the sun was going to set so we didn’t see that this time.  We then had dinner at the Half Moon Bay Brewery before heading home.  We did stop at one of the look-out points along the Santa Cruz Mountains pass (San Andreas Fault) to look at the stars for a few minutes, which was wonderful.  Here in our California home we can see only a few stars as there is just far too much light pollution in the valley.  Was lovely to see so many!

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