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The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua still has space open–sign up now!

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The eighteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is right around the corner, coming up June 14–16, 2019.

Bullock’s Oriole. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

This year’s program has a whopping 106 events—field trips, presentations, workshops, and more. And there’s still space in 62 of those events! More than 275 people have already signed up, and we expect many more (more…)

Birds galore in the Mono Basin

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

On Saturday, May 4, I participated in the eBird Global Big Day, which encourages birders around the world to contribute to citizen science efforts by birding and entering checklists into eBird on a single day.

Green-tailed Towhee singing from a pinyon pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

I decided to use this Big Day as a chance to scout my local hotspots and catch up with migration. In the past two weeks, neotropical migrants have been moving north to their breeding grounds, so there have been new species arriving daily. As the (more…)

California Gulls at Mono Lake featured on Science Friday

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

It wasn’t long ago when Mono Lake’s unique alkali flies made a splash in the news, and today another iconic Mono Basin animal is making headlines on Science Friday: the California Gull. Beloved by some and unpopular with others, the California Gull is a bird that is sure to generate a reaction—whether it’s of awe of their seasonal migration to inland salt lakes, like Mono, or of irritation because a clever gull once stole your ice cream cone.

Regardless of how you feel about California Gulls, Mono Lake provides a critical nesting habitat for these birds as well as an abundant natural food supply of brine shrimp and alkali flies. In the video posted today on Science Friday’s website, Kristie Nelson, Mono Lake Gull Project manager for Point Blue Conservation Science, discusses her research on this important population of birds at Mono Lake, numbering in the tens of thousands—one of the largest colonies of California Gulls in the world. I hope this video gives you a newfound appreciation for the gulls and Mono Lake.

A growing problem for California Gulls: Invasive weed rapidly encroaches on nesting habitat

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Last century’s water diversions from the Mono Basin greatly changed the ecosystem of Mono Lake, and that legacy continues to test successive generations of California Gulls. A falling lake level, the first emergence of the landbridge in 1979, coyotes crossing to Negit Island, and gulls abandoning their once-secure breeding colony—these were tragic events. California Gulls (Larus californicus) became one of the rallying points for saving Mono Lake, and while the colony suffered, the birds adapted and shifted nesting to the newly-emerged islets adjacent to Negit that provided refuge from coyotes because they were still surrounded by water.

By 2018, Bassia hyssopifolia had spread rapidly on the Negit Islets, significantly reducing California Gull nesting habitat. Photo courtesy of Kristie Nelson.

Challenges stack up

Because of lake level fluctuations the coyote problem never completely went away, and even (more…)

Register today for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Sunday, April 21st, 2019 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

Registration for the eighteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua (June 14–16, 2019) is now open, and there are more than 75 programs with space available, including field trips, presentations, and workshops.

Lazuli Buntings are one of the birds you could spot at this year’s Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

This year we’ve added several new trips that still have space, including Birding the Lee Vining Creek Trail, Fire by friction, Wing beats around the basin, and Birding Bohler Canyon after the fire. We’re also offering a “big sit” on Saturday and Sunday morning during which the group will sit in one spot with a variety of habitats and identify all the birds that come through. (more…)

Phalaropes in focus

Monday, April 8th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Migrating phalaropes are a summer phenomenon to behold at Mono Lake. When tens of thousands of them arrive they gather and flock—weaving like schools of aerial fish, erupting from and falling to the surface of the lake in giant tornadoes.

Phalaropes in flight over Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Rick Kattelmann.

Wilson’s and Red-necked phalaropes are shorebirds that rely on alkali fly larvae at Mono Lake in order to molt and double their weight in preparation for migration to South America. These graceful (more…)

“Ever Rising: Etchings of Sierra Birds” by Stephanie Martin at the Mono Lake Committee gallery

Friday, March 29th, 2019 by Joslyn, Project Specialist

The Mono Lake Committee Bookstore & Information Center is in good shape these days—not only are the floors freshly refinished, but we also have a gallery filled with new artwork from the talented Stephanie Martin.

“Northern Flicker” by Stephanie Martin.

Stephanie is a painter and printmaker who lives along the California coast. Her artwork pays homage to the diversity and fascinating design of plants and birds. It is especially fitting to display Stephanie’s artwork here in the Committee gallery (more…)

2019 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua programs now online

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Registration for the eighteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is less than a month away, beginning at 6:30am PDT on Monday, April 15, 2019.

Black-billed Magpie. Photo by Nora Livingston.

The full schedule of field trips, presentations, and workshops is now online, including the grid schedule, which shows (more…)

Mono Lake Field Seminars open to non-members starting tomorrow

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Registration for the 2019 Field Seminars opens tomorrow at 9:00am to non-members. Of the 38 seminars we’re offering this year, seven have sold out already, so take a look at the list and sign up today to be sure you grab a spot!

Sign up for the En Plein Air oil painting seminar to get started painting outdoors in the Mono Basin’s inspiring landscape. Photo courtesy of Penny Otwell.

If you’re after birds this year, you can join Dave Shuford (waterfowl, shorebirds), Nora Livingston (all birds), Steve Shunk (woodpeckers), and David Wimpfheimer (all birds) in the field in search of species to add to your life list.

If you’re interested in enhancing your photography (more…)

Join the Mono Lake Volunteer team this summer

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

The Mono Basin teems with visitors during summer months, and their experiences here are greatly enhanced when they meet one of the 70-plus Mono Lake Volunteers also out and about during the summer.

Volunteers learn about Mono Lake’s simple but productive food chain at South Tufa. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Volunteers introduce Mono Lake’s natural history to visitors by roving the high-use areas around the lake, leading patio talks at the Scenic Area Visitor Center, and helping with invasive species removal events. Volunteers also help with office tasks—such as putting together mailings—here at the Mono Lake Committee offices.

Not sure if you’re ready to teach visitors about Mono Lake? That’s okay! We have a great training for (more…)

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