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Celebrating California Biodiversity Day 2020 at Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

California Biodiversity Day is celebrated across the state by scientists, naturalists, agencies, and others who participate in a citizen science data collection effort. The goal is for individuals to observe and record as many species as possible throughout a week’s time across California.

This year, September 5–13, the Mono Lake Committee, California State Parks, and the US Forest Service will be participating in the annual Mono Lake Bioblitz, which covers the greater Mono Lake area, including Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Canyon.

Participating in the Mono Lake Bio Blitz is a way for (more…)

Point Blue Conservation Science highlights a four-decade partnership with the Mono Lake Committee

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

This year marks the 37th year of California Gull research at Mono Lake, and Point Blue Conservation Science has captained the monitoring effort to track the reproductive success of the gulls, a keystone ecosystem species.

The gull research began in 1983 and has tracked the gulls’ reproductive success annually, providing data that ties the birds to the overall productivity of Mono Lake. This science contributed to the body of evidence the State Water Board used to choose a management level for Mono Lake in 1994, and it will continue to inform that agency in evaluating lake level and public trust resources at Mono Lake. While the tools used to study the gulls at Mono Lake have advanced over the decades, the spirit of collaboration between the Mono Lake Committee and Point Blue has remained unchanged.

Both the Mono Lake Committee and Point Blue are committed to continuing this valuable and successful science partnership. You can read more about it in the recent issue of Point Blue Quarterly.

Video: Osprey banding at Mono Lake

Monday, August 24th, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

Take a peek at this year’s Osprey banding at Mono Lake in this short video by Sarinah Simons of California State Parks!

Osprey banding is an important component of the ongoing bird research in the Mono Basin. This year, Nora Livingston, Lead Naturalist Guide for the Mono Lake Committee, assisted Ashli Lewis, a wildlife biologist with California State Parks, and Peter Bloom, a raptor biologist, with their banding efforts.

In the video you’ll see people climbing tufa towers to reach the Osprey nests, which they have special permission to do. When you visit Mono Lake, please remember—do not climb on, stand on, or damage the tufa in any way.

Though there are no fish in Mono Lake for Osprey to eat (more…)

Video: Birds & Blossoms in the Bodie Hills

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The Committee’s Lead Naturalist Guide Nora Livingston and Friends of the Inyo’s Policy Director Jora Fogg headed to the Bodie Hills this summer to film this short glimpse of plants and animals found in the mountains just north of Mono Lake.

Enjoy this virtual version of their popular Bird Chautauqua trip, Birds & Blossoms in the Bodie Hills!

2020 Phalarope surveys begin at Mono Lake

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 by Rose, Education Director

As the Wilson’s and Red-Necked Phalaropes return to Mono Lake this summer, so do the folks who are studying these captivating birds.

This summer’s Mono Lake phalarope surveys started last week, conducted by staff from Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, California State Parks, and the Mono Lake Committee. Photo courtesy of Ryan Carle.

Last week the first of this summer’s surveys was conducted by boat and from shore to monitor the birds’ population status here at Mono Lake. That data will be utilized to gain a deeper understanding of the health of the two species across North and South America.

The study is spearheaded by Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge’s Ryan Carle, and continues (more…)

California Gulls return to nest on Mono Lake islet after prescribed burn

Sunday, July 19th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Thanks to a series of memorable weed eradication efforts last winter and spring, California Gulls have returned to nest in healthy numbers on Twain Islet in Mono Lake.

Photo courtesy of Point Blue Conservation Science.

This summer’s California Gull research, conducted by Point Blue Conservation Science, revealed healthy numbers of California Gulls occupying nesting habitat formerly covered by the invasive plant Bassia hyssopifolia.

Through a combination of prescribed burning and (more…)

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…)

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