So Many Monarchs

photographs and text by Brian Willson


Common Raven

Scrambled around this morning to make sure to get to the boat on time. Made it! And within the hour, daughter and I were setting foot on Monhegan Island. A more magical place I’m not sure I’ve ever been to.

The usual fall-migration birding hasn’t really taken off yet, from what I understand. And I didn’t spot many species—nor any “lifers” yet, as I seem nearly always to do out here. But it’s great to be here, wonderful to introduce Sarah (no birder, although she likes birds) to the place, Lovely to run into old friends whom I see just once a year.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Perhaps the most inspiring thing I’ve witnessed out here is the large number of Monarch butterflies moving through. What with the bane that is Roundup®, and the decline of milkweed, this lovely butterfly’s numbers have taken a nosedive lately. I’d seen just one this year before setting foot out here—and now, barely ten hours later, I can attest to having seen at least fifty or sixty—plus, a few chrysalises.

Also ravens, sharpies, an Osprey, an oriole, and other birds.

I can hardly believe we’re here for five more days.

Monhegan Island List
Beginning at about 11:30 a.m., I walked around Monhegan.

1. Herring Gull*
5. Northern Mockingbird
6. Northern Flicker
7. Sharp-shinned Hawk
8. Common Raven
9. Osprey
10. Peregrine Falcon
11. Common Grackle
12. Eastern Phoebe
13. Black-capped Chickadee
14. Red-breasted Nuthatch (v)
15. Song Sparrow
16. European Starling
17. American Crow*
18. Great Cormorant
19. Cedar Waxwing**
20. Common Eider
21. Yellow-rumped Warbler
22. Yellow Warbler
23. Baltimore Oriole


24. Mourning dove
25. Bald Eagle
26. Belted Kingfisher

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere