Monday, October 9, 2017

Miraculous Migrations


 

According to season twice a year an amazing number of species on the planet tend to migrate. As defined by the dictionary ‘migration is the seasonal movement of a complete population of insects, fish, and birds from one area to another as a response to changes in temperature or daylight’.  Our birds and butterflies are in the process of migrating South at this time and the sight of them is awe inspiring as great numbers gather.

The Butterflies: The butterflies have been arriving in my garden for several weeks as they continue their journey south to Texas or Mexico. It took three days for hundreds of Monarchs to travel overhead with many flying from far Northern states. Often in a group of six to ten, sometimes alone, they stopped for a sip from my flowers and rested a bit before continuing their journey. I finally got a chaise lounge to look upward rather than have my neck hurt from looking to the sky for hours.

An oddity this year is the spectacular gathering of literally hundreds of bright yellow butterflies dancing about the garden. There is great symbolism associated with yellow butterflies with some Native American tribes believing they bring guidance, hope, joy and creativity with their sunny presence reminding one to have fun. A yellow butterfly flying about you is said to bring happiness and prosperity, while one hitting your face in the fall means the leaves will turn yellow and a frost will come within 10 days… one gently hit my face on Sunday so we shall see.
Of course the Irish had a myth concerning the yellow butterflies believing they are indicators of departed souls who are resting at peace in the after-life. This belief was adopted by the Scots as well and the sight of them near gravesites promised the souls of children and mothers who died during childbirth were safely in Heaven.

In some costal cultures it was believed if a yellow butterfly landed on you in the fall, grave danger of illness was looming so extra precautions should be taken to protect oneself. *Naturally the formula for protection has been lost over time. It was believed if one landed on a departing sailor he would not survive the voyage.  

The Birds: This week will mark the end of the Hawks and Vultures migration, so look in open fields and possibly catch them as they ‘kettle’. They will gather as though they had been telepathically summoned, their numbers reaching hundreds as they gather and wait for some internal signal. The signal is a warm thermal updraft which will aid them in their travels and with its arrival they will begin to kettle.

Kettling is the manner by which the birds take flight and begin graceful acrobatic wheeling and swirling in a circular motion. They will twirl higher and higher as more birds join the wondrous dance, continuing ever-upward until the first birds appear only as small dark specks in the blue sky. And then they will disappear and be gone, returning in the early spring.