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The Mono-logue » Natural History

‘Natural History’ Category

Timelapse video: Watch Mono Lake rise before your eyes

Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.

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Refreshing ‘Ologists: Water law plus geology with Craig Jones

Sunday, October 8th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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This Wednesday, October 11 at 4:00pm is our last Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation of the year. Join us in the Mono Lake Committee gallery to hear from Craig Jones, a geologist at the University of Colorado, about the relationship between water law and geology at Mono Lake and how both have had significant effects on how the lake has evolved over time.

Geologist Craig Jones will talk about how the Sierra Nevada west of Mono Lake affect the climate in the Mono Basin. Photo by Ava Stavros.

Years ago, to acquire water exports from the Mono Basin, Los Angeles used California water laws that first emerged in the goldfields of the western Sierra. These laws allowed for (more…)

Fall splendor in the Mono Basin

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Color starting to creep in at Walker Creek on October 3, 2017. Photo by Nora Livingston.

The fall colors are really starting to happen in the Mono Basin! We offer Fall Color Foray half-day field seminars where we guide you to groves with peak color, plus discuss aspen ecology and the science behind changing colors. Don’t miss it—we have two seminars left.

Check out the itinerary for the October 12 seminar.

Check out the itinerary for the October 16 seminar.

Sign up for either seminar here! More fall color photos after the jump…. (more…)

Mono Lake Committee book signing: Author & artist Obi Kaufmann

Monday, September 25th, 2017 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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We hope you’ll take a break from your fall color viewing and join us for a book signing with California author, artist, and naturalist Obi Kaufmann on Sunday, October 1 at the Mono Lake Committee.

Obi will be presenting and signing his new book, The California Field Atlas, which is a striking volume full of watercolor maps and illustrations of California’s spectacular geography and wildlife, with fascinating information about this amazing and diverse state. Come in and pick up a signed copy of the book for yourself or a friend, chat with the author, and enjoy refreshments from 3:00–5:00pm. We hope to see you there!

Map of the ecological regions of California from The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufman.

Fall South Tufa tours at Mono Lake

Friday, September 22nd, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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This week is the first week of fall, with fresh snow on the hills above town. The aspen leaves are beginning to change color, and most of our seasonal staff have headed back home or to back to school.

Intern Jenny shows visitors Mono Lake’s brine shrimp during a South Tufa tour. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With all of these changes comes a revised tour schedule. Free walking tours at South Tufa are offered at 1:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays through October. If you can’t make it to one of our weekly tours be sure to check out monolakemobile.org on your smartphone, where you’ll find a self-guided tour of South Tufa that is accessible anytime.

Mono Basin fall colors are just around the corner

Sunday, September 17th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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I saw my first yellow leaves the other day, just a few golden specks fluttering amidst a sea of vibrant green along the June Lake Loop, and it got me very excited for fall.

Leaves are just starting to change from green to yellow and red. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Fall is perhaps my favorite time of year in the Mono Basin. It’s like the whole ecosystem relaxes, it takes a deep breath after the constant rush of summer and lets it all go. The air is crisp and clear, the sagebrush sea becomes silent after its birds have flown south, the aspen leaves flutter gold, and the clouds put on spectacular broody shows most evenings.

Each week in fall is unique because of the changing leaves in each individual canyon and hilltop—one week they are still lime green, the next they may be neon yellow, the next buttercream with ruddy streaks like flames licking up a log. When the leaves (more…)

A summer for the birds at Mono Lake

Friday, September 15th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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As the summer season comes to a close, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my time at Mono Lake, and the incredible birds I’ve seen along the way.

California Gull perched on tufa. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

My summer internship began with the sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, an event that brings birders together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin’s incredible bird life. The event includes a variety of field trips, workshops, and presentations with renowned bird guides, naturalists, and artists. This year we had (more…)

The sun sets on an intern’s time at Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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I had been in the computer lab at Colorado State University all day working on my final GIS project when I received the call that I was being offered a position as an intern with the Mono Lake Committee for the summer. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that I would be spending my summer with the Mono Lake Committee. I got an A on that project, graduated with my BS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, and moved to Lee Vining in a flash.

During this beautiful day of training early in the summer, all the new seasonal staff were learning about Mono Lake’s ecology from Education Director Bartshe Miller. Photo by Ava Stavros.

I had never been to Mono Lake before so I really didn’t know what I was in for, but my expectations for the summer were exceeded ten-fold. I will never forget the first time I saw Mono Lake: I was driving in from Highway 120 East and when the lake came into my view I couldn’t believe how huge it was. I knew it was going to be big, but it is truly vast. My first thought was (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: How trout affect bird species at high-elevation lakes with Mary Clapp

Sunday, September 10th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us on Wednesday, September 13 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. UC Davis researcher Mary Clapp will be here to discuss her ongoing research on the impacts of introduced trout on the native bird community in the high-elevation lake basins of the Sierra Nevada. Her work focuses on the connection between water and land by using acoustic recorders to remotely capture lakeside activity by birds and bats.

Researcher Mary Clapp is studying high-elevation lakes like this one to see if trout introduction is affecting the bird communities. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Introduced trout prey on native aquatic insects like mayflies and stoneflies, thus depleting the abundance and diversity of those insects in fish-containing lakes. These insects have a winged adult life-stage, at which point they become available to terrestrial predators (birds and bats) as a valuable food source.

Mary is testing the hypothesis that trout are therefore in competition with birds for this insect food, and that as a result, bird activity is greater at fishless lakes where aquatic insect emergences remain abundant. She will discuss a few different approaches to analyzing acoustic data, the benefits and limits of the technology, and how it compares with traditional survey methods. Her talk is entitled “Investigating the Impacts of Introduced Trout on the Native Bird at High-Elevation Lakes.”

If you’re interested, join us in the gallery at 4:00pm on Wednesday for this free presentation and free snacks!

Today’s Refreshing ‘Ologists: Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite with Mike McDonald

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Today at 4:00pm, join us in the Mono Lake Committee gallery to hear National Park Service researcher Mike McDonald speak about the Sierra Nevada red fox.

The Sierra Nevada red fox, a species that was thought to be gone from Yosemite, was re-discovered in the park in 2014. Researcher Mike McDonald is trying to find out why. Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service.

Mike will be presenting about Yosemite National Park’s effort this past winter to investigate the Sierra Nevada red fox, which was re-discovered in the park in 2014. If you are interested in these charismatic critters, come by the Mono Lake Committee today at 4:00pm for free snacks and this free lecture.

The Refreshing ‘Ologist talks aren’t over yet! We have one more talk scheduled for next Wednesday, September 13 with Mary Clapp, whose presentation is called “Learning by Ear: Investigating the Impacts of Introduced Trout on the Native Bird Community at High-Elevation Lakes.”

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