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The Mono-logue » Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

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Guiding you to the past at Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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The season is winding down, birds are heading south to their wintering grounds, and fall is just around the corner. Our next two months of guided trips will focus on catching up with those birds before they disappear and also turning our attention to the ghosts that never leave: the historic places and buildings that tell almost invisible tales of the Mono Basin that existed many years ago. Come explore the shores of Mono Lake with us and refocus your eyes towards the past to imagine what life here was like long before we were born.

The Bodie Jail, photo by Nora Livingston.

The Bodie jail. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Here’s a look at our guided trips in September: (more…)

Celebrate bird migration with a Mono Lake guided trip

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Have you ever seen a flock of shorebirds dancing in air over a glassy reflective lake? It’s a must-see, even if you aren’t a birder. The birds swirl around each other with seemingly no leader but they’re always in sync, making tight turns and flashing their white bellies in unison. Their whir of wings is calming, a near-silent chorus of feathers.

Wilson's Phalaropes flock over Mono Lake in large numbers. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Wilson’s Phalaropes flock over Mono Lake in large numbers. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Late August is the best time to be in the Mono Basin to see large numbers of shorebirds like sandpipers, curlews, and plovers. We’ve designed a few guided trips to get out and scour the shores (more…)

Fall colors at Mono Lake: It’s not too early to plan your trip

Sunday, August 21st, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Yes, I know, it’s only August, and the canyons are still glittering green with quaking aspen trees. But if you are thinking about visiting in the fall, now is the time to start planning your trip!

The wide open views and hillsides covered in aspen make the Conway Summit area a great place to enjoy autumn. Photo taken on October 21, 2010 by Bartshe Miller.

The wide open views and hillsides covered in aspen make the Conway Summit area a great place to enjoy autumn. Photo taken on October 21, 2010 by Bartshe Miller.

The colors usually start to change in mid-September and peak around mid-October. By November, the leaves are usually on the ground and snow has arrived. Different areas peak at different times, so let us do the scouting! The Mono Lake Guided Trip program has five trips scheduled in October to take visitors to the hottest spots for fall colors during the peak. (more…)

Guided Trips in August: Volcanoes, natural history, birding, and more

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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A Sierra wave sunset over Mono City. Photo by Nora Livingston.

A Sierra wave sunset over Mono City. Photo by Nora Livingston.

It’s getting to be that time of summer when thunderstorms roll through in the afternoon and the clouds make for some lovely sunsets. It’s a great time to visit the Mono Basin! Spend your morning doing something fun (like a guided trip!) and spend your afternoons watching the storms sweep through from the window of a coffee shop or the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore, then watch the tumultuous sky turn peach and gold and charcoal.

We have some fun guided trips for you to join in on, coming up in the next three weeks: (more…)

Upcoming guided trips July 21–31

Monday, July 18th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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It’s amazing how many different plants, animals, and insects you can see when you are paying attention to your surroundings. Just focusing your gaze beyond one aspect of nature can bring you almost endless new things to see.

2016-07-16 Rattlesnake gulch lizards, chipmunks, butterflies, birds NL (56)

Juvenile Green-tailed Towhee snagging a meal. Photo by Nora Livingston.

For instance, you see a bird perched on a branch and identify it as a Green-tailed Towhee. A lot of times, it is easy to stop there, saying “I identified the bird! Yay me!” But what if you asked, “what kind of tree is it perched on?” (more…)

Mono Basin high country in bloom

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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A Hermit Thrush is perched low and well hidden in a Western Hemlock, singing his ethereal sonata that is simultaneously uplifting and sad. His song echoes through the pines, drifts out over Tioga Lake, and wafts up towards Mt. Dana.

Mountain heather, Phyllodoce breweri, and granite. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Mountain heather, Phyllodoce breweri, and granite. Photo by Nora Livingston.

(more…)

Upcoming guided trips: July 7–17

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Yesterday, my guided trip clients and I watched a pair of Williamson’s Sapsuckers bringing food to their nest cavity in a burned fir snag for twenty minutes. The parents dutifully foraged for a few minutes and returned with a beakful of insects to feed their hungry chicks. The male and female took turns feeding every few minutes—they must have had quite the brood! It was amazing to be able to observe and photograph these beautiful birds as they went about their daily lives, almost oblivious of us. It was almost meditative.

A Williamson's Sapsucker brings food back to the nest cavity. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

A Williamson’s Sapsucker brings food back to the nest cavity. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

As the Lead Naturalist Guide for our new Mono Lake Guided Trips program, I love bringing our visitors and supporters into the woods and sharing these incredible nature experiences with them. We know the spots—let us take you there! Here are our upcoming trips for the next two weeks:

High Country Birding on Thursday, July 7, takes you to the (more…)

Upcoming guided trips: June 25–July 1

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Are you on your way to the Mono Basin for a quick escape from the daily grind? We have spaces available on a few guided trips next week that will be the perfect addition to your vacation! Combine multiple trips for an extended guided getaway. The Mono Lake Guided Trip program offers naturalist trips to enhance your knowledge and connection to this beautiful area and its fascinating natural history.

Sierra wave sunset over Mono Lake. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Sierra wave sunset over Mono Lake. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Twilight Birding & Owling on Saturday, June 25, is a wonderful way to spend the evening at Mono Lake. We will spend a few hours birding as daylight turns to twilight, when vivid colors wrap (more…)

Supporting local Lee Vining businesses

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Mono Cone swirl cone. Happy me! Selfie by Nora Livingston.

Mono Cone swirl cone. Happy me! Selfie by Nora Livingston.

Lee Vining is getting busier as spring brings more visitors with the arrival of fishing season. In preparation for the fishing season opener (April 30), a few more businesses in town opened their doors after a winter of hibernation. I made it my goal today to support as many local businesses as possible, because we all work together as a town to both provide for locals and bring visitors here to boost the town economy and garner love for this community and its surrounding beauty (like Mono Lake!). If people didn’t visit Lee Vining and support the businesses, it would be a lot harder to protect the lake because a whole lot fewer people would know it existed.

The best part of the day was (more…)

Blooming desert peach: Spring is on its way

Saturday, April 30th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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It definitely feels like springtime here in the Mono Basin—the days are warming up and the cloudless sky is electric blue; the birds are returning, preparing to croon their overtures, practicing for their unabridged performances; the trees are bursting with minute glittering gems of new leaves that dance ecstatically in the breeze; and the blooming desert peach is glazing the hillsides pink.

A six-petaled Desert Peach flower (usually they are five-petaled). Photo by Nora Livingston.

A six-petaled desert peach flower (usually they are five-petaled). Photo by Nora Livingston.

When I breathe in, I feel the spring absorbing into my lungs; my skin, my nerves, my blood is rich with it. It is nice to be reminded each spring that regeneration is cyclical, so that we always have something to look forward to even (more…)

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