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The Mono-logue » Natural History

‘Natural History’ Category

Winter birding in Bridgeport

Monday, January 22nd, 2018 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Just north of the Mono Basin lies a wide golden valley with a glittering half-frozen reservoir edged up against a pinyon pine forest. Winter is a fantastic time to look for birds in Bridgeport, and this winter in particular has drawn in some rare birds. The reservoir is packed with ducks like Redheads, Northern Shovelers, and Common Goldeneyes.

A half-iced-over Bridgeport Reservoir reflects the snowy Sierra Nevada, including Matterhorn Peak and the Sawtooth Ridge. Photo by Nora Livingston.

In December, the reservoir was just beginning to freeze over and the ice edge provided a perch for gulls to stand, or nap, without bobbing up in down in the cold water. A rare Black-legged Kittiwake spent almost two weeks (more…)

All 2018 Mono Lake Field Seminars posted online

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2018 Field Seminars is now available online hereRegistration opens at 9:00am on Thursday, February 1.

Summer and fall are wonderful seasons for exploring the Mono Basin on a Field Seminar. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

This year’s slate of 40 Field Seminars includes one-day, half-day, and multi-day options, and spans many topics: astrophotography, botany, mining history, butterflies, oil painting, basketry, woodpeckers, geology, fire ecology, and more.

We have brought back several popular workshops: (more…)

Mono Lake’s visible rise, November to November

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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We didn’t know it in November 2016, but the severe drought that had plagued Mono Lake and California for five years was nearly over. After record-setting winter precipitation and subsequent record-setting runoff last summer, Mono Lake had risen 4.2 feet by November 2017.

That difference in lake level is clearly visible in these satellite photos from the folks at Planet, most notably on the landbridge near Negit Island and the white “bathtub ring” around the lake’s shore. After tracking and celebrating Mono Lake’s rise from up close last year, it’s fun to see it in a big-picture view! (more…)

Mono Lake Committee seasonal job openings posted

Friday, December 22nd, 2017 by Jessica, Office Director
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The permanent staff here at the Mono Lake Committee are accustomed to several statements from members and visitors alike: “You live in the most beautiful place—you’re so lucky!” and “I’ve always wanted to be an intern here!”

Now is your chance: You can work at the Mono Lake Committee as one of our 11 seasonal staff members and live in the Mono Basin during the busiest and most activity-filled season. See all the job openings here.

Last year’s seasonal staff at the Grant Lake Reservoir spillway during the aqueduct tour training day. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

We accept applications from people of all ages, so whether you are looking for an internship between college semesters, or if it’s been a lifelong dream to lead South Tufa tours and canoe on Mono Lake every weekend, we would love to speak to you.

Hiring begins January 1, 2018, and positions fill quickly. To apply, please send a cover letter and résumé to me, Office Director Jessica Horn, either by email or by mail to P.O. Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541.

Happy winter solstice from Mono Lake

Thursday, December 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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As the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt back toward the sun, we welcome more light, longer days, and a new season. Everything is beginning to slow down—streams that were raging with record flows this year are beginning to freeze, the aspens have lost their leaves and gone dormant, the thousands of birds that used the Mono Basin to breed or stage their migration have mostly left for warmer climes, and visitation to the Information Center & Bookstore has slowed with the closing of Tioga Pass last month.

The banks of Lee Vining Creek are just beginning to freeze. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Although things have slowed, the Mono Basin never ceases to amaze. We’ve already awoken to several days of poconip ice fog (more…)

Lee Vining weather almanac: A new water year

Monday, December 18th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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A new water year began on October 1, and it follows the record water year of 2017 when 27.7″ of precipitation fell in Lee Vining. Given the increasing variability of California precipitation, a repeat performance of a wet year is unlikely. October 2017 concluded with 0.08″ of rain, well below the 0.83-inch 30-year average. Average temperatures ran very close to average for daily highs with overnight lows falling slightly below average.

Warm November view from Mono Lake.

Average low temperatures in November 2017 stayed above freezing for the first time on record. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

November left a more notable wake in the Lee Vining weather annals. Temperatures soared well above average and the month concluded as the second-warmest November overall, a small 0.8°F difference behind November 1995. The real measure of warmth was in terms of increasing overnight low temperatures. Average low temperatures in November eclipsed the 30-year record by over 2°F and averaged above freezing (34°F) for the first time. (more…)

Mono Lake Committee reaches GuideStar Platinum

Sunday, December 17th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last week, the Mono Lake Committee earned the Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of non-profit information.

To reach the Platinum level, the Committee reported in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward our mission to protect and restore the Mono Basin and educate the public about Mono Lake and the impacts on the environment of excessive water use. You can check out the Mono Lake Committee’s complete GuideStar profile here.

Some of the highlights you’ll see (more…)

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.

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