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Summer update: thunderstorms, smoke, and mosquitoes—oh my!

July 1st, 2009 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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It has warmed up, with most days this past week in the 80s. We have afternoon thunderstorms and a bit of smoke from two small fires in Yosemite. The mosquitoes are out, and there is still plenty of snow above 11,000 feet.

WEATHER
Hot, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s. Nearby thunderstorms the last two days have created amazing sunsets. A massive thunderstorm to our west Monday evening caused a brief windstorm with a peak gust of 40 mph, damaging some … more »

Blackburnian Warbler singing at Rush Creek

July 1st, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 1 July 2009

Maybe this is the best year for vagrants in the Mono Basin that I have seen. His song at first blended in with the rampages of the Yellow Warbler horde, but I noticed that one song was higher, thinner, and maybe a little faster. Then I saw him foraging high in a black cottonwood on Rush from below – vibrant burnt orange throat blending into a yellow belly, black mottled flanks, huge white patch on the wing. I only got to see him for about 20 seconds, then he blasted down toward the ford.

Kestrel fledgeling. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

Kestrel fledgling. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

An otherwise awesome day, I found 10 nests (4 Yellow Warblers, 2 Song Sparrows, 2 Warbling Vireos, 1 American Kestrel, 1 really difficult Dusky Flycatcher nest). 2 YWAR, both SOSP, and both vireo nests were parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. The flycatcher nest was full of only flycatcher chicks. Yet, it is only 50 feet from an active kestrel nest that just fledged (attached photo).

I know of at least 4 Warbling Vireo pairs on lower Rush this year, the most I have ever found.

State budget crisis could cost 50 times State Parks budget

July 1st, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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State Park Closure Action Alert CenterAdd this to the ironies surrounding the money-losing proposal to shut down most of California’s State Parks, including Mono Lake and Bodie: … more »

Missed state budget deadline adds to State Park closure threat

July 1st, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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State Park Closure Action Alert CenterThe month of June is over and California does not have a revised budget for the new fiscal year, despite late night emergency activities in Sacramento.

This deepens the threat to State Parks at Mono Lake, Bodie, and across the state. Here’s how: … more »

Hydrology Update: Rainy June; Mono Lake to drop 1/2 foot this summer

June 30th, 2009 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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This week we received LADWP’s forecast for Mono Lake levels for the 2009 Runoff Year (April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010). The lake is expected to be at its peak right now (the current elevation of Mono Lake is 6382.53 feet above sea level ), and fall about 1/2 foot by early September, and fall a total of about … more »

Racing with Phalaropes

June 26th, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 25 June

Claire and I were driving to Hawthorne yesterday evening, underneath the stormy sky.  Heading east on Highway 167, just past Cemetery Road, a flock of about 30 phalaropes raced us at 40-50 mph for about 3 miles.  It was unnerving and spectacular, they flew in front of us and would occasionally weave left or right, but rather than peel away, they would re-center on 167’s yellow line, and the race continued.  Even though it wasn’t dark, I turned off our headlights to ensure the light wasn’t affecting them – and it didn’t seem to be, as the chase continued for another 45 seconds after I turned off those lights.  Spectacular.

Parks’ future still in limbo as budget stalls

June 25th, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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State Park Closure Action Alert CenterFunding for state parks was scheduled for a vote Wednesday June 24 in Sacramento as part of the state’s full budget package. But when the first package element lacked the necessary 2/3 majority vote, further action was put off leaving the future of State Parks funding in doubt.

The proposed State Parks Access Pass, which would fund all state parks including Mono Lake and Bodie by adding $15 to vehicle license fees in exchange for year-round free parks access, was part of the package but did not come up for a vote.

It is still critically important to show support for parks. The overall budget package is likely headed into a series of negotiations between the governor and legislature and it’s important that parks funding is preserved!

Write a letter to the negotiation leadership and we’ll hand-deliver it to them in Sacramento! And stay tuned for further updates.

In the news: Sacramento Bee Democrats’ budget-balancing plan crashes and burns

Northern Parula at Lundy

June 23rd, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: June 22, 2009

Justin, Kathy, and I went up Lundy to look for the Northern Parula that has been sighted recently up by the resort. We heard it sing – an ascending trill that ends in a high “pip” – and then we saw it in a willow north of the dirt road. We watched it hop around and preen and sing for over 20 minutes. It was wonderful.

So many vagrants around! I feel a bit giddy, being a relatively new birder, and very thankful that we live in such a wonderful place.

Last chance to sign up…

June 22nd, 2009 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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An alpine lily gets a closeup. Photo courtesy of David Gubernick.

An alpine lily gets a closeup. Photo courtesy of David Gubernick.

With an unusually cool and rainy spring season in the Mono Basin, the flower displays are amazing! Desert flowers are still putting on a good show, with higher-elevation species coming into full bloom in the canyons. It’s a great time to visit Mono Lake.

This flower year will be spectacular for photographers. If you’ve ever thought about getting into wildflower photography, now is your chance! This weekend accomplished photographer David Gubernick will be teaching a Mono Lake Committee workshop: The Art of Wildflower Macrophotography. David offers a relaxed and supportive atmosphere for beginners, and his wealth of knowledge will benefit experts too.

Sign up this week to join what promises to be a great class!

Ovenbird singing on the Lee Vining Creek trail

June 22nd, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 22 June

Lenny Warren found a singing Ovenbird on the Lee Vining Creek trailtoday, within 100m downstream of the sign after you go down the stepsfrom 395.  He got looks at the bird and is familiar with it (he’s from Maine).I went back later with him and I heard it sing about every 6 or 7 minutes for a half-hour, but I never got a look at it, even though at one point it was only about 15 feet away.

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