Come on over to the Sawyer Free Library tonight and learn how you can create a welcoming haven for birds, bees, and butterflies!
Please join us Friday April 10th from 5pm – 8pm at Cape Ann Giclee to view photographs by Good Morning Gloucester Contributors Kim Smith, Joey Ciaramitaro, David Cox, Manny Simoes, Craig Kimberley, Marty Luster, Fred Bodin, Donna Ardizoni, and Paul Morrison. Stop by for cocktails and appetizers. I hope to see you there!
All prints are 17″x 22″ and priced at only 60.00 each. James and Anna have printed the images on heavy weight lustrous paper and it really adds to the depth and beauty of the images. At this price, they will quickly sell. Come see!
Don’t miss the rare opportunity to purchase one of my photos for only 60.00!
Cape Ann Giclee is located at 20 Maplewood Avenue, Gloucester.
When watching, know that the first two minutes of the film were shot in Gloucester. I think you will be dazzled by the sheer numbers of Monarchs that travel through Cape Ann’s backyards and meadows during the peak of migration.
I began photographing the Monarchs in 2006, which was a year when we had an extraordinary number of Monarchs visiting our shores. At that time, I became determined that if ever again this phenomenon were to occur on Cape Ann, I was going to have the ability to document on film, rather than only through still images, this beautiful event for my community. It’s hard to imagine without observing and here you can see what I have wanted to share.
A Flight of Monarchs begins on a September day as first one and then passels of Monarchs begin to arrive to the fields and meadows of Cape Ann, carried across Massachusetts Bay on a tailwind. By the early evening light they begin to pour into the surrounding trees, clustering to stay warm in the branches furthest away from the prevailing breezes. The following morning as the sun begins to touch their wings, they alight from the trees, seeking the freshest wildflowers from which to drink nectar to help build their lipid reserves for the several thousand mile journey south. They drink and drink until the last of the sun’s rays dip below the tree line. As they arrived on a tailwind, they again depart, and are carried to the next gathering area. For coastal Monarchs, Allens Pond, which is located in Westport, Massachusetts is often the next stop.
In the next scene, the butterflies have arrived to the sacred oyamel fir forests of Angangueo, Michoacán, deep in the heart of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. It’s early morning and the butterflies are suspended in great primordial branched clusters that may become so heavy from the weight of so many butterflies the boughs of the trees bend to the breaking point. Later in the day, as the sun begins to warm their wings, the butterflies begin to stir. During the winter, it is imperative that the Monarch’s body temperature remains relatively low. They leave the sunniest branches in search of shade and a drink of water from nearby mountain streams. Occasionally in late February, as the air temperatures begin to warm with the coming springtime, for a short period during the day, the butterflies leave the trees all at once. This phenomenon is called a butterfly “explosion,” and is a truly magnificent event to observe.
A Flight of Monarchs is set to the evocative and tender “Fields of Blue,” written and performed by composer and guitarist Jesse Cook and his band, to which permission was granted by the artist for the purpose of this short film. Here is a link to Cook’s website. I highly, highly recommend attending a live performance of Jesse Cook and Company. As was I, you will be completely taken by their gorgeous music, exquisite artistry, and with Cook’s songwriting, will travel in beautiful melodies inspired from around the world.
I am currently editing my feature length documentary, Beauty on the Wing, which after months and months of organizing and editing three years of footage, is currently running at approximately twelve hours in length. At eleven hours too long, I have a great deal of editing to accomplish in the coming winter months!
A Flight of Monarchs presented here is the shorter version of the film that I created for the Berkshire Museum’s “Butterflies” exhibit. The first version is six minutes long and played on a continuous loop in the main gallery of the exhibit hall. The longer version will soon be posted on Vimeo.
Below is a list of some favorite nectar- and pollen-rich bee-friendly North American wildflowers for attracting native bees and honey bees to your gardens. They are listed in order of bloom time, from spring through late summer, to provide your foragers with nourishment all growing season long.
Wild strawberry (Fragaria viginiana)
Wild Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis)
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Sunflower (Helianthus annus)
Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)
Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis)
New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
Monarchs usually arrive in our region by the first week in July and go through several brood cycles. This year, barely any arrived. The Monarch’s sensitivity to temperature and dependence on milkweed make it vulnerable to environmental changes. Since 1994, U.S. and Mexican researchers have recorded a steady decline in the Monarch population in their overwintering grounds, with 2012-2013 being the lowest recorded to date.
Temperature change and habitat loss affect breeding success and longevity. Dr. Chip Taylor, a leading Monarch researcher at the University of Kansas reports that the widespread adoption of GMO corn and soybean crops resistant to herbicides, along with with intensive herbicide use, coupled with the federal government’s incentivized expansion of corn and soy acreage for the production of biofuels have caused a significant drop in milkweed throughout the heart of the Monarch’s range. Lack of milkweed equals no Monarchs. “Monarch/milkweed habitat has declined significantly in parallel with the rapid adoption of glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans and, since 2006, the rapid expansion of corn and soy acreage to accommodate the production of biofuels,” Taylor wrote on May 29.
What can we do? Encourage conservation organizations that conserve Monarch habitat, plant milkweed, plant nectar plants, and raise caterpillars. Hopefully the weather next spring and early summer will be more conducive to the Monarch’s northward migration and breeding success, and if and when the Monarchs arrive, they will find our milkweed plants.
If anyone sees a Monarch, please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment in the comment section.
Update: For more information, see previous GMG posts on Monarchs and Milkweed:
While I am finishing editing my Black Swallowtail film, I am also shooting footage for my film about the Monarch butterflies. I am looking for scenes of wildflower meadows and drifts–milkweed, asters, and goldenrod, for example. If you have a favorite place and know of such a scene on Cape Ann (accessible to the public) or are willing to allow me to come film and photograph on your property, please let me know. There is no extensive equipment involved, just me and my camera and tripod. Please feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.