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Phalarope researchers and their muses flock to Mono Lake

Monday, November 4th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

If you’ve been to Mono Lake in late July, you may have been lucky enough to have seen the elegant aerial ballet of a flock of Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Phalarope surveyors counted birds through binoculars in a clockwise transect around Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Ryan Carle.

This summer there were thousands of phalaropes along Mono Lake’s south shore, so visitors were fortunate to have the chance to witness these small shorebirds in magnificent flocks dancing above the reflective lake surface, turning on a dime, flashing their white bellies all at once before seeming to disappear in the dark mountain background when they turn their brown and gray backs in unison. This flocking behavior is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. It was a notable phalarope summer at Mono Lake in several other ways as well. (more…)

Calling Mono Lake photographers!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

Submitting images for consideration for the Mono Lake Calendar has never been easier, so if you have a beautiful shot, we’d love to see it! Now is the time—the deadline is next Thursday, October 31, 2019, and you can find submission information here.

2020 Mono Lake Calendar

We are looking for images of scenes within the watershed boundary of Mono Lake, and possible subjects include, but are not limited to: plants, geologic features, streams, (more…)

For the love of grebes

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

In British Columbia Robbie assisted Dr. Boyd with telemetry studies to determine annual migration patterns of Eared Grebes. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

They’re not an endangered species, they’re not an invasive species, and they’re not a mascot for a sports team—according to a recent paper these are indicators that we shouldn’t expect Eared Grebes to start trending on Google anytime soon. In fact, a paper published in the National Academy of Sciences journal identified grebes as one of the least-popular bird groups in the United States.

I learned this not-so-fun fact while I was in Riske Creek, British Columbia, capturing Eared Grebes with Dr. Sean Boyd and his colleagues from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). While cradling a little one-pound grebe in my hands, the bird patiently waiting to be released, I felt baffled about why such a cool and unique bird was not more loved.

Eared Grebe aerial photo surveys at Mono Lake have been conducted almost every year since 1996, and the Mono Lake Committee has (more…)

Join us for a winter field seminar at Mono Lake

Friday, October 11th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Travel to the Mono Basin in winter to experience the “forgotten” season on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Winter here is quiet, majestic, and worth discovering with a guide on one of our winter field seminars.

Join us for a winter field seminar to experience the “forgotten” season in the Mono Basin. Photo by Arya Harp.

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Winter Photography at Mono Lake
January 10–2, 2020 • Joe Decker

Mono Basin Winter Wanders (half-day) •
February 1 & 15, March 7 & 21, 2020
• Nora Livingston

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Registration will open on Tuesday, October 15 at noon. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger, Dave Marquart, retires

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

In July, longtime Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger Dave Marquart retired after 36 years of service at Mono Lake. To say that Dave is an institution at Mono Lake, and within the Reserve, is an understatement—in his tenure he saw much change, and through it all, he served as a dedicated caretaker of the resources and a skilled interpretive guide, helping countless people learn about and become inspired by Mono Lake.

By the time he retired in July, ranger Dave Marquart had led countless bird walks at County Park during his 36-year career with the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve essentially protects the central core of Mono Lake—the bed and waters of the lake itself and all state-owned portions of the lake’s 40-mile shoreline, including the majority of the tufa groves, for a total of approximately 49,000 protected acres. Dave’s (more…)

A bountiful year at Mono Lake

Monday, September 30th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

If you wanted to summarize this past summer at Mono Lake in one word it would be this: phalaropes.

Phalaropes flocked in spectacular formations at South Tufa this summer. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The dainty Mono-loving migrators put on spectacular displays at South Tufa for many days, dipping and weaving in tight flocks of thousands. Visitors stopped in their tracks and canoes floated in place to watch the aerial acrobatics. Mono Lake Committee staff captured one dramatic episode on video and it quickly became our most-watched video ever; you can see it for yourself here.

The phalaropes have now headed to points south for the winter, but like many things at Mono Lake, their summer displays were possible thanks to protection work behind the scenes (more…)

2021 Mono Lake Calendar submission deadline is approaching

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 by Joslyn, Project Specialist

We hope you are planning to submit your Mono Lake and Mono Basin photos for the 2021 Mono Lake Calendar jury selection this year. The deadline is Wednesday, October 31, 2019, and you can find submission information here.

Photos courtesy of John Dittli, Jessica Tallman, Dennis Flaherty.

We encourage you to submit high-quality photographs that you feel best capture the spirit of the Mono Basin’s geological and ecological wonders. To be selected for inclusion (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Sage-grouse conservation across the sagebrush sea

Saturday, August 31st, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday, September 4 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Eric Tymstra, PhD candidate at UC Davis, will be here to discuss his research on the Greater Sage-grouse, their behavior, diet, and conservation. If you can join us for this free event, please register here.

A male Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) struts his stuff on the lek during the breeding season in an effort to attract a mate. Photo courtesy of Andrew Hallberg.

Conservation and restoration efforts aim to protect organisms and the areas that they use. Herbivores in particular face unique challenges when it comes to habitat use: many plants have high fiber content, low nutritional value, and defenses such as toxins. In response to toxic, low-quality food, many herbivores have evolved counter defenses, such as (more…)

Summer activities on the Mono Lake Committee bookstore patio

Thursday, August 29th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

As the summer drifts steadily onward, seasonal staff are making the most of the long days and increased visitation to Lee Vining by offering activities and natural history interpretation on the patio outside of the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.

Look for the table out in front of the Mono Lake Committee bookstore—we’re there with games, activities, and answers to your questions. Photo by AnnaLisa Mayer.

Stopping beneath a welcome shade tent, as the August sun beats down on the concrete inlay of Mono Lake, passersby can play family-friendly games such as Wildflower Bingo and Shrimp Toss, all the while learning about the story of the lake and the local ecology. If (more…)

Only one weekend left for free bird walks at County Park and Lundy Canyon

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019 by Krista, Birding Intern

As I reflect on the weekly County Park and Lundy Canyon bird walks from this past season, it is difficult to distill all the feathered moments into a few short paragraphs that convey what a wonderful experience it all has been. Join us this weekend for the last free bird walks of the season!

Join us on Friday and Sunday to bird Mono Lake County Park and the State Natural Reserve boardwalk. Photo by Elin Ljung.

This season has quite literally “flown” by, and has left me in a daze from all the twisting phalarope murmurations and the seasonal changes in the local bird populations. I felt the peak of (more…)

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