Park It: The Monarchs Rule in December

The monarch butterfly migration is well under way at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont and, by all accounts, this season is a great one.

Madame Butterfly, also known as naturalist Chris Garcia, says the butterfly count is more than 4,000, well above last year’s census. Monarch butterflies also have been seen in the eucalyptus groves at Pt. Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond.

The butterflies overwinter in several Bay Area locations, settling into the trees in clusters that overlap shingle-fashion. When the temperature is right, they flutter out into colorful clouds called cascades. It’s one of nature’s more beautiful spectacles.

Nature interpreters at Ardenwood have planned lots of programs around the monarch butterfly phenomenon. For instance, slide shows followed by walks to the butterfly grove are scheduled at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Dec. 18 and 31. The programs last about an hour and a half. One-hour walks to the grove are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and Dec. 17, 18 and 31.

For kids ages 2 to 8, there are special monarch programs involving a skit about the monarch life cycle, then a short walk to the grove. These will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday and Dec. 17.

The programs are free and reservations aren’t necessary. All meet at the Ardenwood Granary.

Ardenwood is at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84 in Fremont. Entry fee is $2 for adults and seniors, $1 for youngsters ages 4 through 17, and free for 3 and under. Parking is free. For information, call 510-544-2797.

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