I took a jaunt up the short trail to the top of Ortega Hill just before sunset. The eucalyptus trees on the hill attract clusters of Monarch butterflies overwintering for the season. There was nobody around and I found a decent group of them huddled together on a fairly young tree that wasn’t too tall and I was able to get pretty close.
I was out at the Ellwood eucalyptus grove at Santa Barbara Shores County Park in November and it felt like I was at an exhibit at the zoo. There were docents standing around offering to answer questions about the butterflies and other ones leading tour groups.
At Ellwood nowadays you walk in along a guided little path to a viewing area that is cordoned off. I had to elbow my way through a horde of people to get near the front and get a closer look. Which was not close at all. Ellwood gets busy because it is a large grove that has long been known for attracting a lot of butterflies, but there are numerous other eucalyptus groves around that attract Monarchs which few if anybody visits.
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