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Jeff Maurer Chautauqua Research Grant recipients

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

During a typical Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, the Jeff Maurer Chautauqua Research Grant is awarded to support research in the Mono Basin. The grant is in memory of biologist, birder, and educator Jeff Maurer, who died in a climbing accident in 2009.

Jeff Maurer, in purple shirt, leading a field trip during the 2007 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Arya Harp.

Despite having to cancel the event this year, the Chautauqua team agreed that supporting research needs to continue. We are happy to announce that we awarded two research projects with a $2,000 grant each.

The first grant (more…)

Chautauqua weekend: Hear the Mono Basin’s birds from home

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

It’s strange to imagine that right now, in a typical year, the Mono Lake Committee office would be abuzz with activity in preparation for the arrival of hundreds of Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua attendees—assembling participant packets, finalizing schedules, and making the last Chautauqua buttons.

Although we won’t be able to gather in person this year, we have a few videos for you to enjoy from home. First, a short message from the Chautauqua organizers:

On Saturday, June 20, we will also be premiering two videos on Facebook and YouTube. Both videos will also be available to watch after they premiere. (more…)

Birding Mono Lake: A Big Day in May

Thursday, May 28th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

On May 9, to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day and eBird’s Global Big Day, my partner Kevin and I set out to see as many bird species as possible within a 5 miles radius (5MR) of the Mono Lake Committee office while contributing to the eBird Global Big Day citizen science project. Last year, I saw 76 species in my 5MR and my goal was to break 80 this year. Though the species count is a motivator, the birds are the prize! We had an amazing day. I have linked the eBird Checklists to each location I mention, so you can see what we were seeing and hearing.

A map of the 5MR. It includes many prime birding spots! Photo from Google Maps.

We started at 5:00am, hearing the pre-dawn crooning of American Robins and House Wrens. Then we drove up Lee Vining Canyon for the dawn chorus. I had been keeping track of the returning migrants diligently, but this week was bursting with new (more…)

2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars are canceled

Monday, May 25th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Last week we made the difficult decision to cancel all Mono Basin Field Seminars through the end of the year. After much consideration, we couldn’t envision offering them with the uncertainties that lie ahead, in a way that minimizes risk well enough, and yet doesn’t compromise the experience that participants expect.

The 2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars have been canceled due to the uncertainties and risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo from 2018.

We are deeply disappointed about this—the Field Seminars have been a tradition at Mono Lake for more than 25 years, and we will miss seeing all the great instructors and enthusiastic participants in the Mono Basin this year. But as hard as the decision was to make, it was also clear—we don’t want to risk anyone’s health during a year when gathering together will be tricky at best.

While this program has been canceled, there are (more…)

Mono Lake canoe tour program canceled this year

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

The Mono Lake Committee’s canoe tours have been a tradition in the Eastern Sierra for more than 35 years. Canoe tours offer a unique, immersive experience where one can weave through the tufa towers, glide among flocks of Wilson’s Phalaropes, and learn the Mono Lake story from trained interpretive guides.

Public canoe tours on Mono Lake will not take place this summer, due to COVID-19 and staffing decisions made because of it. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and our decision to not bring any seasonal staff to Lee Vining this summer, we must cancel the 2020 canoe tour program.

We will continue to (more…)

This year’s Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is canceled

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

We are sorry to announce that we must cancel this year’s Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua due to COVID-19.

Red-breasted Nuthatch. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

The Chautauqua partners are committed to the health and safety of our participants, presenters, staff, and the broader community; therefore, we feel it would be irresponsible to hold an event of this size at this time. Moreover, with Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home order and plans to reopen the state in stages—with large gatherings last on the list—as well as Mono County discouraging visitation to the Eastern Sierra, it’s clear that (more…)

Earth Day 2020: Action from a distance

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Fifty years ago, Gaylord Nelson invented Earth Day. Inspired by the direct action of anti-war protesters, he realized that we needed to rally to protect the earth in the same way people rallied to make change in government. A day of action, a day of recognition, a day of progress.

Our beloved blue Mono Lake on our beloved blue Earth. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Join me tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22, for a special Mono Lake Moment at 11:00am in celebration of Earth Day. I will be (more…)

Virtual tours of Mono Lake are available for classes

Monday, April 20th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

This time of year I am usually at the shore of Mono Lake sharing the ecological wonders of the Mono Basin with students from near and far. These days the shore is empty as classes have transitioned to distancing learning and we are not encouraging people to visit Mono County. That doesn’t mean, however, students cannot virtually visit Mono Lake for a field trip.

Through virtual tours, Lead Naturalist Guide Nora Livingston can bring Mono Lake to viewers who want to connect to Mono Lake from the safety of their homes. Photo by Rose Nelson.

While classes may not be able to smell the briny lake nor feel the wind, they can (more…)

Spring visitors at Mono Lake: Migrant birds

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

With our lives seemingly on hold, it can be hard to remember that the internal clock of all the nature around us keeps on ticking and spring is slowly but surely making its way to the Mono Basin.

A gorgeous Black-bellied Plover at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Ramona Robbins Clark.

The Red-winged Blackbirds arrived first and are singing their trademark “b-LEE-dle” song from the trees in town. Then the swallows, Tree first, then Violet-green, came swooping in. Hearing the grinding chirps of Violet-green Swallows on the wires in town is the official sound of spring to me. Yesterday evening at sunset near South Tufa, I heard Osprey calling and Sage Thrashers singing. (more…)

Mono Lake Committee public programs canceled through March 31

Monday, March 16th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

In response to the COVID-19 crisis the Mono Lake Committee has canceled all public programs until at least March 31.

This includes weekend South Tufa tours, visiting school group programs, presentations, field trips, special tours, next weekend’s Winter Wander field seminar, and programs with the local schools. Prior to this decision, we canceled the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles that was due to take place March 11–13.

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