Saturday, July 4th, 2015 by Sandra, Birding InterncloseAuthor: Sandra, Birding InternName: Sandra Noll Title: About: Sandra Noll and her partner Erv Nichols travel extensively as volunteers for nature. The retired couple exchanges their skills as naturalists, photographers, and interpretive guides for an RV hook-up or lodging at a wide variety of National and State Parks, Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges, Audubon Centers, and now the Mono Lake Committee for a second summer. Whether from an information desk, viewing deck or lecture hall, leading bird walks, night hikes or canoe excursions, their passion connects people with our nation's special landscapes and wildlife.See All Posts by Sandra (12) Contact Sandra
The month of June has flown and it’s time to unveil the top ten bird encounters; birds seen within a half-hour driving radius of the Mono Lake Committee headquarters. It was a great month enhanced by the seasonal hatching and fledging young and by sightings at the 14th annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua held June 19–21.
A Mountain Bluebird with food for its hungry nestlings. Photo by Erv Nichols.
1. Northern Saw-whet Owl—a cavity nest with several owlets was discovered in the Obsidian Dome area during the Bird Chautauqua
2. Mountain Bluebirds—nesting behind the gas station at south entrance to June Lake Loop (more…)
Friday, July 3rd, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistcloseAuthor: Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistName: Greg Reis Title: Information & Restoration Specialist About: Since his Committee internship in 1995, Greg has been involved with Mono Basin stream restoration and with maintaining the Committee's computers, Websites, and Research Library, and researching and compiling information for our programs. His B.S. degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Forestry and Natural Resources with a concentration in Environmental Management and a Senior Project in Hydrology reflect his interests in natural resources management, watershed management, and habitat restoration. He is a member of the California Society for Ecological Restoration and he also works for the Rivers and Delta Program of The Bay Institute.See All Posts by Greg (170) Contact Greg
On the evening of July 1st, rain falling on Mono Lake during thunderstorms could be heard two miles away. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.
The Mono Basin is a land of extremes, and this year’s weather is no exception. Temperatures since January are the warmest on record. October–March precipitation in Lee Vining was the lowest on record. April–September precipitation, on the other hand, already is the highest on record—and we are only halfway through that time period! This water year (October 1, 2014–September 30, 2015) is the first time Apr–Sept precipitation has exceeded Oct–Mar. This reversal of the warm and cold season Mediterranean precipitation patterns has allowed invasive plants like cheatgrass to (more…)
Daily walking tours and weekend canoe tours are underway for the season! Come join us and learn the natural and political history of Mono Lake and the surrounding area, discover Panum Crater, look for birds, or explore the night sky. There is an activity for everyone….
Join Mono Lake Committee and State Park birders at County Park on Friday and Sunday mornings at 8:00am for a free guided bird walk. Photo by Elin Ljung.
South Tufa Walk: Daily tours at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk. Bird Walk: Sunday and Friday mornings at 8:00am. Meet at Mono Lake County Park. Panum Crater Walk: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings at 10:00am. Meet at Panum Crater parking lot. (more…)
Friday, June 26th, 2015 by Lily, Canoe CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Lily, Canoe CoordinatorName: Lily Pastel Title: About: Lily graduated from Humboldt State University in May 2014, where she majored in Environmental Science. She was drawn to the Mono Basin by the beauty of the area as well as the Mono Lake Committee's worthy cause. After working through the winter on projects like the Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner and the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, Lily is paddling the waters of Mono Lake for the summer. Contact Lily if you are interested in taking a canoe tour on Mono Lake.See All Posts by Lily (15) Contact Lily
Paddle among tufa towers, catch brine shrimp, see bubbling underwater springs, and taste alkali flies on a guided canoe tour with the Mono Lake Committee. Photo courtesy of the American River Conservancy.
Whether you are brand new to paddling or a seasoned veteran of the lake, you are welcome to participate in our guided programs. Floating in a canoe is one of the best ways to take in Mono Lake. Peer down into the water to see bubbling tufa towers and clouds of brine shrimp and enjoy the mountain views while migratory birds flock nearby. Our friendly canoe guides (more…)
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 by Terry, Information Center & Bookstore ManagercloseAuthor: Terry, Information Center & Bookstore ManagerName: Terry McLaughlin Title: Information Center & Bookstore Manager About: Terry worked as one of the Committee's Outdoor Experiences Instructors during the summer of 2012, fulfilling her passion for being outdoors and connecting others to the natural world. She has taught outside (and taught others how to teach outside) for nearly 30 years near Lake Superior, in Washington state, and on both sides of the Sierra Nevada. During the summer of 2015 she is filling in as the Committee's interim Bookstore Manager.See All Posts by Terry (6) Contact Terry
The summer travel season in the Eastern Sierra brings migrants and pilgrims.
The birds, attuned to nature’s siren song, have winged their way to the Mono Basin. The long days and warm nights bring the fecundity back to the brush and pines. These feathered migrants perch, peck, and peruse our shores and sage, feeding their young in hope for the next generation. Blue, black, yellow, green, orange, red, and white tufted flyers startle across skies.
Likewise, with open passes and the promise of adventure, come the pilgrims. Join them.
Monday, June 15th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Lisa Cutting Title: Eastern Sierra Policy Director About: Lisa concentrates on the Mono Basin's policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Lisa uses sleuthing-out good fly fishing spots as another excuse for hiking, and it's always a treat when her happy golden retriever Abbey comes to visit the office!See All Posts by Lisa (11) Contact Lisa
After three years of meetings and discussions, in-depth analysis and testing, expert recommendations and collaboration, the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project is underway.
The Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project will reduce rocks falling onto the highway while improving the visual quality of old roadcuts at the same time. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) project will improve motorist safety by reducing rockfall incidents along a one-mile section of Highway 395 near Old Marina. The project will stabilize and revegetate six eroded slopes using a combination of anchored mesh, soil rehabilitation, and revegetation tailored specifically to the Mono Basin’s unique soil composition. (more…)
Saturday, June 6th, 2015 by Sandra, Birding InterncloseAuthor: Sandra, Birding InternName: Sandra Noll Title: About: Sandra Noll and her partner Erv Nichols travel extensively as volunteers for nature. The retired couple exchanges their skills as naturalists, photographers, and interpretive guides for an RV hook-up or lodging at a wide variety of National and State Parks, Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges, Audubon Centers, and now the Mono Lake Committee for a second summer. Whether from an information desk, viewing deck or lecture hall, leading bird walks, night hikes or canoe excursions, their passion connects people with our nation's special landscapes and wildlife.See All Posts by Sandra (12) Contact Sandra
Late spring and early summer is a great time for birding in the Mono Basin, as species migrate through, arrive for nesting season, and display courtship behavior. The “top ten” monthly bird round-ups are back, selected from birding encounters within a half-hour driving radius of the Mono Lake Committee headquarters in Lee Vining. Including a wider variety of habitats provides increased opportunities to observe and appreciate the beautiful plumage and fascinating behaviors of local birds!
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak perched near the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining. Photo by Sandra Noll.
Drumroll please…. The top ten bird encounters for May 2015:
1–3: Most colorful (and prolific this month)—Western Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole, and Black-headed Grosbeak
4: Most unusual—Rose-breasted Grosbeak(more…)
Monday, June 1st, 2015 by Arya, Communications DirectorcloseAuthor: Arya, Communications DirectorName: Arya Degenhardt Title: Communications Director About: Arya oversees the Committee's communications program, which includes the Mono Lake Newsletter. She loves her job because she gets to share the inspiring work of the Mono Lake Committee with members and visitors alike. Her favorite things to do in the Mono Basin include ice skating on nearby lakes, skiing the Mono Craters, and getting to smell the sagebrush when it rains.See All Posts by Arya (139) Contact Arya
This is the first time in 37 years that we have featured the Milky Way on the cover of the Mono Lake Newsletter. Tufa and Milky Way, by photographer and Mono Lake Committee member Thomas Piekunka, is not only a stunning view of the night sky over Mono Lake, it was shot without artificial light. Knowing that the photograph was taken with sensitivity for the subject—without disrupting wildlife (people included) with bright lights at night—makes it that much more beautiful.
That idea, that knowing more about something can make it more beautiful, is actually a pretty good theme for this issue of the Mono Lake Newsletter. Let’s face it, drought doesn’t look good on Mono Lake. Dusty exposed lakebed and weak trickles of water in cobbled creek channels are hard to see. With the final snowpack numbers in we’ve had to face up to some stark realities about what the coming summer is going to mean for the Mono Basin—a potential two-foot vertical drop in lake level not being the least of it.
Today the lake is at 6,379 feet above sea level. Without the Mono Lake Committee, the lake would be at 6350′. That’s not only 29 vertical feet of water, it’s the difference between a landscape with a recovering ecosystem, and one without. So, when I look out at Mono Lake knowing it could be that much worse, I can still see a landscape that has undoubtedly stalled out, but is, in the bigger scheme of things, on the road to recovery. Mono Lake has protections in place and a dedicated group of people who really, really care about it, work for it every single day, and are determined to figure out the best things for it no matter what the circumstances. I’m pretty sure there is extra beauty in that.
Maybe you should come see for yourself—walk the shoreline, check out the night sky, or scout out some water and follow the lead of the dipper below.
American Dippers are North America’s only truly aquatic songbird, and catch their food underwater by swimming and walking on the bottom of streams. A family of dippers takes up residence along Lee Vining Creek each summer—if you listen closely you can hear them singing and see them diving for food and feeding chicks. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.
Friday, May 29th, 2015 by Sandra, Birding InterncloseAuthor: Sandra, Birding InternName: Sandra Noll Title: About: Sandra Noll and her partner Erv Nichols travel extensively as volunteers for nature. The retired couple exchanges their skills as naturalists, photographers, and interpretive guides for an RV hook-up or lodging at a wide variety of National and State Parks, Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges, Audubon Centers, and now the Mono Lake Committee for a second summer. Whether from an information desk, viewing deck or lecture hall, leading bird walks, night hikes or canoe excursions, their passion connects people with our nation's special landscapes and wildlife.See All Posts by Sandra (12) Contact Sandra
Bullock’s Oriole. Photo by Erv Nichols.
The season’s County Park bird walks officially began on May 17 with a record 46 species! As usual, the spring walks have been highlighted by bird species in migration from southern wintering grounds to northern nesting sites. It’s an exciting time of year because you never know what you might see. This year the variety and number of species has been higher than usual due to storms and snow in the high country pushing more birds down into the Mono Basin.
A few of the species seen on the first two walks include: (more…)
Monday, May 25th, 2015 by Robbie, Project SpecialistcloseAuthor: Robbie, Project SpecialistName: Robert Di Paolo Title: About: A 2012 graduate from Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Science, Robbie loves hiking, camping, and bike touring, all of which are great Eastern Sierra activities. He also likes to play music, primarily guitar and singing, but also flute and alto saxophone. If you're interested in volunteering with the Committee's restoration program, have questions about your membership, or are interested in our social media efforts, contact Robbie.See All Posts by Robert (17) Contact Robert
An Osprey on its nest atop a tufa tower in Mono Lake. Photo by Erv Nichols.
As Mono Lake lovers know, Mono Lake is critical habitat for millions of birds. Many of these birds stop by on migration for the shrimp and fly soup buffet, but there are a few that have made Mono Lake their annual summer home getaway to nest and reproduce.
California Gulls are one of the most iconic seasonal residents. Gulls nest out on Mono Lake’s islands, laying eggs and raising chicks to fledging there during each summer. The “island closure” takes effect from April 1st to August 1st in order to protect the thousands of gulls and their chicks, so people must stay at least one mile away from (more…)