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The Mono-logue » Wildlife

‘Wildlife’ Category

Seminar spotlight: Mono Basin Mammals

Monday, July 10th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, kangaroo rats, and mice scurry around us humans all the time here in the Mono Basin, but how often do you actually get to really see them? If you’re interested in seeing the Mono Basin’s mammals up close (you might even get to hold one!), you’re in luck—there is still space available in the Mono Basin Mammals field seminar next week.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 21–23 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here • view full itinerary here

Biologist and Field Seminar instructor John Harris has studied the Mono Basin’s mammals since the 1970s. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Instructor John Harris has studied the Mono Basin’s mammals for decades, and has led many popular field seminars for the Mono Lake Committee and at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. John catches the mammals in live traps, thereby allowing seminar participants to see these fascinating creatures up close.

The group visits the Tioga Pass high country to look for marmots and pikas during the seminar. Photo by Elin Ljung.

If you have never seen the tuft on a kangaroo rat’s tail, been able to compare the stripes of different chipmunk species, or watched families of pikas busily gathering grass for the winter, this seminar will show you all that and more. More mammals occur in the Mono Basin than in many states, from its desert sand dunes to Sierra forests and alpine meadows. This class will include live-trapping, field observation, learning about tracks, and identifying skulls, with a focus on identification and adaptations to Mono’s varied environments. Sign up now for a fascinating weekend in the Mono Basin, in the company of its smallest mammals.

More mammals occur in the Mono Basin than in many entire states, and identifying those varied species is much easier with John’s help. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 21–23 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here • view full itinerary here

Visitor questions at Mono Lake

Monday, July 10th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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South Tufa tours are a great way to learn about the mysteries of Mono Lake. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Since I started giving walking and canoe tours this summer, I have been asked some really thought-provoking questions. Some have straightforward answers and some are more abstract, but I love every question I am asked because it helps me think about the lake differently and it helps me understand what people are really interested in.

I would like to share some of my favorite questions so far because if one person asked, others must be wondering too.

1. What if you put a shark into Mono Lake? (more…)

Experience Mono Lake by canoe!

Thursday, July 6th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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View from the canoe tour starting destination at Navy Beach. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Whether you are a local or simply passing through right now is the best time to get out on Mono Lake. Since January of this year the lake has risen over two feet and we are expecting it to continue to rise another foot-and-a-half. It is a magical, serene, and beautiful place to experience by canoe.

The Mono Lake Committee offers hour-long canoe tours with knowledgeable guides paddling you through tufa groves. We offer these tours every Saturday and Sunday at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am through the first weekend in September. Reserve your spot online today!

Canoe guides lead you through tufa groves while looking for brine shrimp. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

It is astonishing how much the lake has risen in the past month. I go out every week as often as I can, even on my days off and before work, just to see how different the changing water level makes tufa disappear under the water’s surface. There is so much to see from the Sierra Nevada’s still-snow-covered peaks, the lake teeming with brine shrimp, and the new nesting Osprey chicks. There is so much to explore and be grateful for in what the Mono Lake Committee and friends have done to ensure that this splendid lake is not lost or forgotten. We’d love it if you would join us for an amazing morning out on Mono Lake so you can experience the magic yourself.

Free summer activities at Mono Lake

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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With the end of June approaching, it is now officially summer in the Mono Basin! The Mono Lake Committee, in partnership with local agencies and organizations, has lined up a great selection of programs and tours at Mono Lake. No matter your interest or background, there’s sure to be a program perfect for you! Below is a brief list of these programs, which will be available from June 28 to September 1, 2017.

Join a State Park, Forest Service, or Mono Lake Committee guide for a South Tufa Walk every day at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm. Photo by Sandra Noll.

South Tufa Walks: 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm every day
Unearth the mysteries of Mono Lake’s water, geology, and wildlife. You’ll even have the chance to create tufa and eat alkali fly pupae! Meet at the South Tufa Kiosk for this free 1 to 1.5-hour tour and don’t forget sunscreen, water, and a hat. To get to South Tufa from Lee Vining, drive South on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and then east on Highway 120 for 5 miles. Look for signs for “South Tufa.” (more…)

Birders flock to Mono Lake for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last weekend, more than 300 people and many more birds flocked to the Mono Basin for the sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. The Chautauqua brings birders together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin’s diverse and abundant bird life and to educate the public about this area’s value to birds and people. This year’s event featured over 100 programs to choose from, including field trips, lectures, workshops, and more.

Locating Hermit Thrushes near 10,000 feet above sea level at Virginia Lakes. Photo by Elin Ljung.

This year, Chautauqua participants saw an impressive 151 species of birds. Some exciting finds this weekend included Indigo Buntings near Lundy Canyon, a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a Long-tailed Jaeger in Bridgeport, and the rare Chestnut-sided Warbler near June Lake.

In addition to birds, the Chautauqua celebrates many other (more…)

There’s still time to register for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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The sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua kicks off next week with over 300 participants, over 50 presenters, and more than 100 programs! Many programs are still open, including some free programs open to all, so take a look and sign up for them before they fill. You can find full trip descriptions for all of the open trips on the Chautauqua website.

Bullock’s Orioles are one of the species you could spot at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

OPEN PROGRAMS: (more…)

Mono Lake’s California Gulls safe for the season

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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A mile of citizen-funded solar-powered electric fence is up and running, protecting Mono Lake’s nesting gulls—one of the three largest colonies in the world—from mainland predators. The fence is the result of a year and a half of planning by the Mono Lake Committee and California State Parks along with other agency partners, a dedicated local installation team, and generous funding from Mono Lake supporters across the country.

The temporary electric fence stretching one mile across the landbridge has 11 motion-activated wildlife cameras with infrared nighttime flash capability along its length. In late April, camera #5 documented a coyote walking the fence line, confirming that the fence is functioning as a coyote barrier. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Why is the temporary fence—which will be removed when nesting is finished—needed? Five years of drought lowered Mono Lake seven feet, shrinking the protective moat of water between the lake’s north shore and Negit Island and adjacent islets—exposing a landbridge that allows coyotes access to the lake’s long-established nesting colony of California Gulls. Last summer signs were found on a few of these islets that coyotes had indeed walked the landbridge and then swum the remaining 500 feet or so of shallow water to prey on eggs and chicks, disrupting nesting and causing gulls to be suspicious of returning to these sites in future years.

Not a typical fence site

The electric mesh netting fence used for the project (more…)

Mono Lake is for the birds … and free bird walks

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Water is everywhere, cottonwoods are throwing cotton, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing. With warming temperatures and longer days birds are becoming more active at Mono Lake, and you can see and hear the birds with a guide, twice weekly at Mono Lake County Park beginning now through the summer.

Brilliant blue Lazuli Buntings are one of the species you could spot during a Friday or Sunday morning bird walk at Mono Lake County Park. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

County Park offers a diverse habitat for a variety of birds from lakeshore to wetland to towering cottonwoods. Bird walks are free and begin at 8:00am every Friday and Sunday morning through September 3, 2017. Meet at the parking lot and bring sunscreen, water, hat, and binoculars (if you have them). Whether you have a passing interest in birds, or you are a beginning birder, or an advanced birder, there are feathers, songs, and festive color for all.

Mono Lake canoe tour season is right around the corner

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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The weather is warming up in the Mono Basin, which means the Mono Lake Committee’s canoe tour season is right around the corner!

Canoe tours offer a chance to experience Mono Lake from a unique vantage point. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Canoeing on Mono Lake is truly a magical experience, offering a new perspective of this otherworldly high desert lake. Your one-hour tour will take you from Navy Beach to the tufa-filled waters (more…)

Great Mother’s Day gift: A guided trip at Mono Lake

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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My mother, Kerry, at Black Point. Photo by Nora Livingston.

My mother loves the Mono Basin. She lives on the coast in the lush hills of West Marin, but she craves the dry expanse of sagebrush and the quiet aspen canyons of the Eastside, so she visits me as often as she can in the summertime. She and my dad set up their tent in Lee Vining Canyon and spend their days exploring Mono Lake, basking in the glory of the Sierra, and painting flowers with watercolors. She, like many of our visitors, likes to make the most out of her time here, filling her days with adventure, diving deeper into her experience here in the Eastern Sierra.

Last year, I gave my mom the gift of attending the Miwok-Paiute Basketry field seminar so she could learn the art of weaving willows from Julia and Lucy Parker. She was thrilled. She enjoyed the seminar immensely, and was very proud of her beautiful basket. In fact, she loved it so much, she signed up for the seminar again this year!

Why not give your mother the gift of learning and exploration for Mother’s Day this year? (more…)

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