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Monitoring California Gulls on Mono Lake’s islands

Sunday, July 15th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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Last week, I traveled to the Negit and Paoha islets in the middle of Mono Lake to help with the ongoing California Gull research project. (Please note that the islands are closed to the public until August 1 to protect the nesting gulls.)

Counting gull chicks in a fenced-off plot on the Paoha Islets. Photo by Nigel Bates.

This project, conducted by Point Blue Conservation Science and supported by the Mono Lake Committee, has monitored long-term trends in the breeding gull population for the past 35 years. Mono Lake supports one of the largest California Gull colonies in the world, so the success of this population is critical to the survival of the species. I joined Point Blue lead researcher Kristie Nelson and Institute for Bird Populations intern Sarah Hecocks for three days of data collection at the gull colony. (more…)

Discover more on Mono Lake Mobile: monolakemobile.org

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever been down at Mono Lake wondering: How many brine shrimp live in Mono Lake? Why do the tufa towers at Old Marina look different than the ones at South Tufa? What else can I do during my visit?

When you visit Mono Lake, pull up monolakemobile.org on your phone for a self-guided tour of South Tufa, directions, and more. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

You can find the answers to all of these questions and more by visiting monolakemobile.org on your phone. Designed to be mobile-friendly and used while visiting the lake, Mono Lake Mobile is the best way to learn about the lake on your own schedule and at your own pace. You can take a self-guided tour of South Tufa (complete with audio narration) and learn about other great sites to visit around Mono Lake including Old Marina and County Park.

You can also (more…)

Looking back on the 2018 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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A record-setting crowd of over 330 people convened in the Mono Basin for the seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Over the course of the weekend, participants enjoyed over 100 field trips, workshops, and presentations that covered the area’s tremendous diversity of birds and other wildlife.

Birders enjoy a spectacular view of the Sierra crest on a field trip to the Rush Creek Delta. Photo courtesy of Sarah Angulo.

This year’s Chautauqua participants racked up an impressive list of 171 bird species. For many, the avian highlight was a Grace’s Warbler that entertained birders all weekend along Bald Mountain Road east of the June Lake Loop. Other notable sightings included Indigo Bunting in Lundy Canyon (for the second year in a row!), Sandhill Crane and Common Grackle at Bridgeport Reservoir, and Common Loon at Crowley Lake. (more…)

Summer interpretive activities begin at Mono Lake this weekend

Thursday, June 21st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Days are longer, evenings are warmer, and the Mono Basin is buzzing with activity. Summer is in full swing and when you visit there are many things to do: South Tufa tours, bird walks, Panum Crater walks, Stars Over Mono programs, and canoe tours!

Guests observe alkali flies on a free South Tufa Tour. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Join us daily for free South Tufa tours to learn about the political and natural history of Mono Lake. Tours last approximately one hour and your guide will lead you through towering groves of tufa, help you observe Mono Lake’s endemic shrimp, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of nesting Osprey. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk, daily at 10:00am & 6:00pm. (Tours are free, however there is a $3 fee to visit South Tufa.)

The Mono Basin is a birder’s paradise. Free bird walks (more…)

Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua programs still have space

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua starts this week! This year’s festival is sure to be an incredible weekend with over 300 participants and more than 50 presenters. If you haven’t had a chance to register, don’t worry—there are still programs available.

Yosemite ranger Karen Amstutz leads a trip near Virginia Lakes. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Click through to see a list of programs that still have space. Full trip descriptions can be found on the event website.

OPEN PROGRAMS (more…)

Conservation groups sue to protect migratory birds

Monday, May 28th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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Led by the National Audubon Society, a coalition of conservation organizations is suing the US Department of the Interior over the new, and significantly weaker, interpretation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The lawsuit, filed on May 24, 2018, challenges a new Department of the Interior memorandum that removes protections related to “incidental take” of migratory birds.

Mono Lake hosts tens of thousands of Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes each summer, as an important stop on the Pacific flyway. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Under the new interpretation, the only actions that can be regulated using the MBTA are intentional ones—such as hunting. Actions that cause unintentional yet predictable bird deaths no longer fall within the parameters of the MBTA. This latter category encompasses a broad swath of industrial threats, such as oil spills and collisions with power lines, and while they are not designed to kill birds, they are known to lead to significant migratory bird deaths nonetheless.

Mono Lake is an important piece of the migratory flyway (more…)

Sign up for a Mono Lake canoe tour today

Friday, April 27th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Celebrate the Mono Lake Committee’s fortieth anniversary this summer by taking a guided canoe tour!

Experience Mono Lake in a new way by joining a guided canoe tour this summer. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Canoeing on Mono Lake is an unforgettable experience. See the lake in a completely new way as you float over bubbling springs forming new tufa towers, examine some of the trillions of tiny brine shrimp that inhabit the lake, and experience the peace and tranquility of this wild place. Prepare to take in breathtaking views of the Mono Basin and the dramatic Sierra Nevada crest, which rises 6,000 feet above the lake. (more…)

Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

(more…)

35th year for California Gull study: Research documents changes in gull population and nesting habitat

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In 2017 Point Blue Conservation Science continued its Mono Lake California Gull monitoring study with the goal of better understanding how the gulls respond to changes in lake conditions over time. Indeed, 2017 was a year of change for both the gulls and this critical long-term study, which is supported by the Mono Lake Committee (read the full report online here).

Approximately 27,000 California Gulls nested on Mono Lake’s islets in 2017, well below the 35-year average of 46,000 nesting adults. Photo courtesy of Kristie Nelson.

Following two years of testing, the nesting gull counts were done using aerial photography instead of the previous method of ground counts. Results indicate that counting nesting gulls from the aerial photographs matched ground count tallies by 96%, and the new survey method is less disruptive to the gulls.

Lowest-ever number of nesting gulls

The population of nesting California Gulls (Larus californicus) in 2017 was the lowest ever recorded at (more…)

Field Seminar registration opens for non-members March 1

Sunday, February 18th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2018 Field Seminars is online here, and registration opens for those who are not Mono Lake Committee members at 9:00am on Thursday, March 1st.

Learn about the fascinating volcanic history of the Mono Basin with Nora Livingston on a field seminar this summer. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

This year’s slate of 40 field seminars spans many topics: basketry, oil painting, mammals, moonlight photography, volcanism, mining history, Basque sheepherders, kayaking, and more. (more…)

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