On the first crisp, cool mornings of fall you can visit some beaches along the North Carolina coast and witness migration of a different sort. Not fish or birds, but butterflies; especially Monarchs. The eastern population of Monarchs extends all the way to eastern Canada. They travel southward through the eastern states in fall, through peninsular Florida or along the Gulf coast toward wintering areas in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.
Migration occurs by day and the Monarchs cover between 50 and 100 miles each day. By night, those following the barrier islands along the Atlantic coast will settle in the dunes and shrubs. As the sun rises and warms the land, the Monarchs move up the stems of sea oats or out to the tips of shrubs to bask in the sun that warms their tiny bodies. When the temperature is sufficient for sustained flight, they lift off one by one and embark on the next leg of their journey.
Fall is my favorite time on the North Carolina coast for all that it brings and for the little things like finding migrating Monarchs basking in the sun.