Thursday, March 30 , 2017, 12:08 am | Fair 56º


Captain’s Log: A Sterling Time of Year to Visit Sperling Preserve’s Monarch Butterflies

Anyone up for a casual stroll through a local wonderland, complete with a chance to view thousands of monarch butterflies? We’re in the right time of year and conditions are right.

I read that last year, when there was a carefully managed butterfly counting event, 40,000 monarch butterflies were counted. I wonder how long the count stood at 39,999, waiting for just one more to make it an even number! I’m kidding, and I’m thoroughly impressed with the effort.

Goleta is fortunate to have multiple monarch overwintering sites, the largest of which is the Ellwood Main Monarch Aggregation Site, located along Devereux Creek on the city-owned Ellwood Mesa Open Space, also known as Sperling Preserve.

The Ellwood grove is accessible through the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, located at the end of Coronado Drive.

I’ve taken such walks, and I’m here to tell you it takes your breath away.

In the mornings and on very cool days, those many thousands of butterflies hang in colorful clusters on the eucalyptus trees of the grove. A few always seem to be in the air to add movement to the glorious sight.

Then on warm afternoons, great numbers of them take to the air and create a fantastic surreal sense of color in flowing movement with tens of thousands of soft wings fluttering beautifully. It is a touching sight that brings strong emotions to the surface of our conscience.

Head west on Hollister Avenue from the Glenn Annie/Storke Road intersection for 1.6 miles to the signed entrance for Santa Barbara Shores and a good-sized parking lot. Coronado Drive is one street past the entrance, which is prominently marked. Turn left. Park near the end. There is a hill with a big display sign at the bottom with information about the butterflies. That is where you start.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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