|Huge Number of Red Crowned Sandhill Cranes (丹
頂鶴) and Beautiful Monarch Butterflies Wintering
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At sunset time in the winter season, many groups of red crowned greater sandhill cranes (丹頂沙丘鶴) are
flying in from various directions to roost on the shallow water at Isenberg Crane Reserve (i.e., Woodbridge
Ecological Reserve) near Lodi in California Central Valley as their wintering location.
We came to this Crane Reserve near sunset time on November 1, 2015 to watch many wintering sandhill
cranes flying in. This location is about one and half hour driving distance from San Francisco Bay area. I set
the destination of my GPS navigator at the junction of Woodbridge Rd. and N. Thornton Rd., Lodi, CA 95242,
then drive west on Woodbridge Rd. for 2 miles to reach the parking lot of the Reserve on the Left (south) side.
Sandhill cranes prefer to stand in the shallow water for roosting at night to avoid the land based predators.
These red crowned greater sandhill cranes stand up to 5 feet tall with a wingspan of over 7 feet. These very
vocal birds have an unmistakable honk and gurgling call and engage in intricate “dance” moves for pair bonding.
In the daytime, these sandhill cranes fly out to nearby farm fields foraging for foods. At sunset time,
many groups of sandhill cranes are flying in from various directions to roost on the shallow water in
this crane reserve.
In addition to sandhill cranes, there are also many other kinds of water birds in this crane reserve.
Many other water birds flying above this crane reserve.
We arrived at this parking lot about one hour before sunset time. There were no sandhill cranes in sight in the
shallow water area and there were very few people.
But at about half hour before sunset time, many cars, trucks, recreational vehicles and bird watchers arrived
and showed up in this parking lot. Many groups of sandhill cranes also started to fly in from many different
directions. Such actions lasted for about one hour from half hour before sunset time to about half hour after
sunset. Half hour after sunset, it becomes too dark to take more pictures even though more sandhill cranes
are still flying in.
Two sandhill cranes are descending down to join a group in the shallow water in the crane reserve.
This group has arrived and is descending down to the shallow water below with landing gear down.
Many groups of sandhill cranes are flying in from many different directions and distances.
Many other kinds of birds in action at this crane reserve.
When we arrived at this crane reserve about one hour before sunset time, we did see a group of sandhill
cranes dancing and eating something on the nearby dry farm field.
色彩豔麗的帝王斑蝶 （君主斑蝶）， 翅膀上有顯眼的黃褐橙色及黑色斑紋，邊緣有兩串
Every winter, 20,000 to 30,000 beautiful Monarch butterflies come to winter by clustering on the branches of
eucalyptus (尤加利 樹) grove in Monarch Grove Sanctuary located at 250 Ridge Rd, Pacific Grove, California
93950. The number of Monarch butterflies in this Sanctuary usually peak from late November to early
The orange-and-black monarch butterflies are considered the “king” of the butterflies, hence the
These Monarch butterflies are hanging very high on very tall trees. At first it is hard to see them, they look like
leaves. I zoomed in using my compact super-zoom camera with 65X optical zoom to get such close up views
of the brilliant colors and the patterns of beautiful Monarch butterflies. To naked eyes and low power
binoculars at ground level, these Monarch butterflies may look very small, almost colorless and unimpressive.
Therefore, it is important to bring high power binoculars, telescopes or super-zoom cameras so that you can
get close up views to enjoy watching these beautiful Monarch butterflies.
Sign of Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove near Monterrey and the famous 17-mile Scenic Drive area.
We came to tour this Monarch butterfly sanctuary on November 4, 2015. The winter migration of Monarch
butterflies to Pacific Grove is so unique and inspiring that Pacific Grove is nicknamed "Butterfly Town, U.S.A."
In August 2015, I was very happy to see one or two beautiful Monarch butterflies in Holmdel Park in New
Jersey as shown on my web page at:
In November, 2015, I was very excited to see thousands of Monarch butterflies wintering in this Monarch
Grove Sanctuary in California Central Coast.
In the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons, brilliant and beautiful Monarch butterflies migrate north all over
the North America in Canada and USA. But in winter season, Monarch butterflies migrate south to avoid
freezing temperature. Monarch butterflies cannot endure freezing temperature.
Monarchs butterflies east of Rockies migrate south to overwintering sites in Mexico as described in the
following YouTube movies:
But Monarchs butterflies west of Rockies migrate south to overwintering site at this Monarch Grove Sanctuary
in Pacific Grove or other similar sites along California Central Coast areas.
When the temperature is cold, large number of Monarch butterflies cluster and hang from these tree
branches. Their closed wings look like triangular brown leaves.
When the temperature reaches 55 degree F and the sun warms them, the Monarch butterflies open their
orange wings and fly.
Pacific Grove is one of the special places where Monarch butterflies return every winter. These special places
have a microclimate especially suitable for overwintering Monarch butterflies. Winter temperature here
remains above freezing and stay below 60 degree F. The closed canopy of trees here provides wind
protection and a mix of sunlight and shade. Fog offers moisture and flowers offer nectar.
The Ocean View Blvd and the Sunset Drive along the Pacific shore of Pacific Grove are very beautiful, similar
to the famous 17-mile Scenic Drive.
Many pelicans seen from the Ocean View Blvd.
Many seabirds seen from Ocean View Blvd.
I enjoyed very much the tour of Isenberg Crane Reserve (i.e., Woodbridge Ecological Reserve) to see many
red crowned sandhill cranes wintering in California Central Valley near Lodi, of the Monarch Grove Sanctuary
to see thousands of beautiful Monarch butterflies wintering in California Central Coast, and of the beautiful
Ocean View Blvd and Sunset Drive along the Pacific shore of Pacific Grove.
Photos of the beautiful and famous 17-mile Scenic Drive between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach are on my
web page at:
Beside the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, additional locations to see many wintering Monarch
butterflies along California Central Coast are:
Natural Bridges State Beach and Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve at: 2531 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA
95060. The park’s Monarch Grove provides a winter home for over 100,000 monarchs each winter.
Pelton Ave in Santa Cruz: Lighthouse Field State Park at junction of Pelton Ave. & W. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz,
CA, Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary on the flowering eucalyptus trees at Pelton Ave along the north side of the
San Simeon Natural Preserve at San Simeon, CA 93452 , is also the wintering site for monarch butterfly
populations. San Simeon State Park is located 35 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1, and 5 miles
south of the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument Visitor Center.
Monarch Butterfly Grove at extreme southern end of the City of Pismo Beach just off Hwy 1. Pismo Beach’s
monarch colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the last five
years. The butterfly grove is located right along Highway 1. You walk in a circle, look at the trees and enjoy
Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove, Ellwood Main, 7701 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, CA. East of Santa Barbara,
West of the campus of University of California at Santa Barbara. This is the premier Monarch site in southern
California, with close to 100,000 Monarchs in good years.
The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a
shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help
keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies. They huddle together in big balls.
Go in the late morning so you can spot them hanging in the trees, then at about noon time the air temperature
warms up, they start to fly around, and when the sunlight hits their wings, they look so bright! It is better to
go on a warmer and sunny day as the butterflies will be more active flying around and interesting to watch.
Many seabirds seen from Ocean View Blvd.
There are several pull-out parking lots along the Ocean View Blvd and the Sunset Drive for visitors to park the
cars and to enjoy watching the beautiful scenery.
The abundant of seabirds seen here means abundant of fish and other sea mammals in the ocean here. From
these parking lots, visitors with powerful binoculars or telescope can also enjoy watching some interesting
wildlife in action very far away on the ocean similar to the feeding frenzy shown on the following two web
When I visited Monarch Grove Sanctuary in 2015, there was a portable toilet in the lower part of the Sanctuary
for visitors. In 2017, there is a township proposal to upgrade the Sanctuary facilities including building a new
and better toilet in the Sanctuary.
We came again on December 31, 2018 and enjoyed this fantastic sunset view in addition to sandhill cranes
plus many other birds, geese and ducks..