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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.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

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

Wendy Willis and I just watched a male Chestnut-sided Warbler singing in the rose thickets east of County Park. He was moving around on top of the dead willows (just like the Tennessee Warbler for those of you that saw him) but slightly further east, sometimes singing in the Cottonwoods to the east of the thicket as well. We were able to see him from the road. Beautiful Bird!

Kowtowskunk Birds

June 21st, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 21 June

Chautauqua was great this year, and I hope that Bartshe and/or Nora post what was seen.  If anyone has photographs of the Tennessee Warbler and Indigo Bunting at County Park, I’d love to beg you for a copy.

Here is the requisitely lame photograph of the Kentucky Warbler that Lenny Warren and I found singing on Rush Creek this morning.

I recognized that the heavy, repetitive song was a vagrant right away.  I am not good at typing out mnemonics, but it was basically a repeated two-note “chupa chupa chupa chupa” sort of thing, usually in groups of four or three.

It was just off the two-track, only 10 m or so away.  It continued to sing and slowly eased out of the shiny willow – yellow throat, yellow belly and undertail coverts, then the black cap, yellow eyeline, and black auricular patch.  The auricular seemed to be still coming in, making me think it could be a second-year bird.  I guess closest species would be Wilson’s Warbler and Hooded Warbler, but the face pattern and song were far different.

It was moving slowly and singing fairly constantly, at the edge of a wall of shiny willow, probably the gnarliest place on Rush.

In the photo, I used my lame photoshop skills to draw an arrow to its eye.

Crowd gathers for Save Our State Parks (SOS) Weekend at Mono Lake

June 21st, 2009 by Arya, Communications Director
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In an inspirational show of support for the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, Bodie State Park, and all State Parks, over 100 people gathered at the Tufa State Reserve Boardwalk at Mono Lake to participate in the Save Our State Parks effort in support of State Parks around California today.

The concern for the future of State Parks runs deep in this neck of the woods, … more »

Spring Update: Summer is coming

June 18th, 2009 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Two days until the Summer Solstice, and sure enough it is starting to warm up, but not yet starting to dry out–it rained for about an hour last night. The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua starts tomorrow, lots of birders are in town, and excitement is … more »

Redstart and Lewis’s Woodpecker on Rush

June 18th, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 18 June

A fair chance this was a different redstart, as I saw it 1-2 miles upstream.  It was only a quick look and I did not get to see if it had a black spot like on the one I found yesterday.  A Lewis’s Woodpecker sallied high in the Black Cottonwoods, profiting from some sort of Arthropod hatch.

Special Delivery: Twenty-one pounds of support for State Parks

June 18th, 2009 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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State Park Closure Action Alert Center

This post was written by Morgan, 2009 Canoe Coordinator.

As a returning Intern, and this year’s Canoe Coordinator for the Mono Lake Committee, I look forward to doing something new every day to help protect and restore this incredible place.  This past Monday was a typical example of the unexpected diversity of tasks I can expect to do every day I come to work. … more »

American Redstart et al. on Rush

June 17th, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: 17 June 2009

My first day in the field on lovely Rush Creek. I found a second-year male American Redstart gleaning silently in the yellow willows. He had a splotch of black on his chest like a geek with a leaky pen. A nesting pair of Warbling Vireos (rarer on Rush than Willow Flycatchers) chased him away. Ironically, this is the third AMRE I have found within a 100m radius section of Rush.

Once, a male AMRE sang there for around two weeks or something obscene like that.

Most intriguing were two counter-singing Swainson’s Thrushes – I have never heard a SWTH sing on Rush, let alone counter-singing. The two each gave their full range of calls, lots of song, the high singular note, and the low singular note that sounds almost like a ground squirrel.

Willow Flycatchers were building nests today – the ninth straight season that Willow Flycatchers have nested on Rush Creek. One pair has been here since 2003 (Nellie and Phil). The second nest’s male (Yossarian) has been here since 2005. I have not re-sighted that nest’s female yet.

Also, a Spotted Towhee nest and two Yellow Warbler nests. None parasitized by cowbirds so far.

Mono Lake Committee Scholarships for graduation season

June 17th, 2009 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is excited and proud to announce the winners of the 2009 Mono Lake Committee Scholarships! Justin Frederick Diem of the Eastern Sierra Academy, Erika Flores of Lee Vining High School, and Juan Carlos Pina of the Eastern Sierra Academy wrote moving essays that won them each $1,000 to help with their pursuit of higher education.

Justin answered the question: “How has Mono Lake or the Mono Basin influenced your life and your choice to go to college?” … more »

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