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The Mono-logue » Natural History

‘Natural History’ Category

It’s Christmas Bird Count week!

Thursday, December 14th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Whether you are a seasoned birder or new to the delightful joy of watching birds, you can help gather data for the Christmas Bird Count, one of the largest citizen science data sets in the world! Every December and January, thousands of bird enthusiasts across the world count individual birds in specific areas to get a general idea of the population shifts throughout the years.

An Audubon’s Warbler in winter plumage. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

The three local counts are coming up this weekend and next week:

Bishop CBC: Saturday, December 16
Contact Chris Howard by email.

Mammoth Lakes CBC: Sunday, December 17
Contact Santiago Escruceria by email.

Mono Lake CBC: Tuesday, December 19
Contact Kristie Nelson by email.

Do you want to volunteer where you live? The National Audubon Society has a stellar map to show you where all the count circles are and who to contact. If you’re not great at bird identification, you can help by taking notes and keeping track of numbers. You will be assigned to an experienced birder so you can learn a lot along the way.

The weather is looking cold and dry, so the counts will be accessible by hiking rather than snowshoes or cross country skis like in years past. Happy birding!

The Season Seldom Seen: Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Have you ever wondered where all the tiny chipmunks that skitter up the lodgepole pines all summer go when the landscape is covered with several feet of snow? Or how they could possibly survive the cold temperatures and lack of food for months on end? What about how plants bounce back after being buried in snow? This winter we are excited to offer a new Field Seminar focusing on these questions and more!

A view of Mono Lake and the White Mountains from Lundy Canyon in January 2017. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The Season Seldom Seen: Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin will investigate the connections plants and animals have with their winter environments in addition to what factors cause winter in the first place. Winter ecology reveals a new side of animal and plant life that is invisible until (more…)

Tioga Pass closed for the season

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Tioga Pass (Highway 120 through Yosemite National Park) is now closed for the season, due to hazardous driving conditions and snow accumulation at higher elevations. The road will remain closed throughout the winter months until weather conditions permit reopening in the spring. Tioga Pass typically reopens sometime in May or June.

Tioga Pass (Highway 120 through Yosemite) is now closed for the season. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Always check current road conditions and weather before making a trip to the Eastern Sierra, and give us a call for the most current information: (760) 647-6595.

#GivingTuesday at Mono Lake: #GivefortheGrebes

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Today for #GivingTuesday, we are fundraising for Eared Grebe surveys at Mono Lake! We had a blast broadcasting live and talking about the Eared Grebe research down at the lake this afternoon. In case you missed it live (skip to 9:00 for the start of the interviews):

All donations made online today will go toward keeping the Eared Grebe research going, so, it’s not too late!

Thank you for supporting Mono Lake this Giving Tuesday! #GivefortheGrebes

#OptOutside at Mono Lake this year

Friday, November 24th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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This year for Black Friday, skip the craziness of the shopping mall and come enjoy the tranquility of Mono Lake.

#OptOutside at Mono Lake this Friday. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

As fall fades to winter, the air is chilly but invigorating, ice fog descends in the basin in the morning, the mountains are covered in a fresh coat of white, and streamside vegetation is covered in ice. It won’t be long before (more…)

New Mono Lake alkali fly research

Monday, November 20th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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Last summer Floris van Breugel, who studies alkali flies at Mono Lake, stayed at the Mono Basin Field Station and gave a fascinating talk about his research at the Mono Lake Committee.

This mesmerizing video, posted by National Geographic upon the paper’s release, is a must-see:

Using a combination of high speed videography, force measurements, scanning electron microscopy, and manipulations of water chemistry he is working toward understanding what makes these flies so unique—research which, on top of being really neat, has implications in the world of multi-factorial data sets and their application to machine learning. And today, the research paper, “Superhydrophobic diving flies (Ephydra hians) and the hypersaline water of Mono Lake,” by Floris van Breugel and Michael H. Dickinson came out! You can find the paper abstract here. (more…)

The million-grebe question

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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More than 90% of all Eared Grebes in North America stop at either Mono Lake or Great Salt Lake to feed on brine shrimp before continuing their migration to wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico. Each year more than a million Eared Grebes depend on Mono Lake’s abundant supply of brine shrimp in order to successfully complete their southbound migration.

Aerial surveys are conducted each fall to estimate the peak population of Eared Grebes stopping at Mono Lake during their migration. Photo by Jess Horn.

Efforts to quantify the number of Eared Grebes at Mono Lake started in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 1996 that a reliable methodology was developed. By flying over the lake in mid-October (when grebes were assumed to be at peak abundance) and using aerial photography, researchers were able to more accurately estimate numbers. Dr. Sean Boyd, a Research Scientist with Environment & Climate Change Canada, has coordinated grebe surveys at Mono Lake since 1996, which have provided invaluable data for understanding the Eared Grebe fall migration through Mono Lake as well as the overall health of the species in North America. Recognizing the value of this research, and our ability to help by being the local, on-the-ground coordinator of flights and volunteer photographers, the Mono Lake Committee began assisting Dr. Boyd with the Eared Grebe surveys in 2008. (more…)

Tioga Pass closed due to an incoming storm

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Caltrans closed the lower gate on Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) today due to an incoming storm. From the Caltrans press release:

“The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed the lower gate on State Route 120 West (Tioga Pass) to the Yosemite National Park entrance gate today, Tuesday, November 14th at 11:00 a.m. due to incoming inclement weather. This closure is in conjunction with the closure of the Yosemite National Park gate also closed at 11:00 a.m.

“The partial reopening of SR 120 West is dependent upon favorable weather. Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 West.”

Leaving a legacy at Mono Lake

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last spring, I sat down with Mono Lake Committee members Vern Gersh and Terry McLaughlin just before their retirement and talked with them about what Mono Lake means to them and why they decided to put the Committee in their estate plans.

As I talked with them, I was inspired by their passion and love for this place. They shared with me stories from their years of living in Lee Vining and working at the Committee, from enjoying beautiful evening walks to see the sunset to getting stuck in “Mono muck” after their first time paddling a kayak on the lake.

Over the past few months, I’ve put together a short video featuring Terry and Vern’s story. In the video, you’ll hear them reflect on the sublime beauty of the Mono Basin, the remarkable ecological productivity of Mono Lake, and the important role the Mono Lake Committee plays to ensure that this place continues to be protected and restored.

Vern’s parting words at the end of the video still resonate with me: “It’s not necessarily leaving things to the people that are on the earth, but it’s also leaving a portion of the earth to the people who are still here.”

Winter field seminars at Mono Lake

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This coming winter we are pleased to offer three field seminars to take advantage of this very special season—one winter ecology and two winter photography seminars!

Poconip ice fog shrouds Mono Lake, with just a sliver of sun illuminating the base of Black Point. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

___________________________________________

Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin •
January 13–14, 2018 • Nora Livingston

Mono Basin Winter Photography •
January 26–28, 2018
 • Joe Decker

Mono Lake by Moonlight •
March 2–4, 2018
 • Joe Decker
___________________________________________

Registration will open on Wednesday, November 1 for Mono Lake Committee members only, and on December 1 for non-members. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

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