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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…)

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…)

Efforts to rid Mono Lake’s islets of Bassia continue

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Since mid-February’s successful prescribed burn on Twain Islet to clear breeding habitat for California Gulls, the Mono Lake Committee has been working with the Inyo National Forest and Point Blue Conservation Science to schedule another burn before the gulls return to nest for the season.

Mono Lake Committee and State Parks staff returned to Twain Islet in late February to continue efforts to restore California Gull nesting habitat. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

However, a combination of windy and rainy weather, the complex logistics of getting all parties out to the islands, and Point Blue biologists’ observations of gulls already returning to Mono Lake means that the burn window has closed for this spring.

Even though (more…)

A burning solution to the Bassia problem

Friday, February 21st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

In a monumental effort, the Inyo National Forest, in partnership with the Mono Lake Committee, conducted a series of prescribed fires with the specific goal of restoring California Gull breeding habitat on the islands in Mono Lake.

The Bassia caught fire better than expected in February’s warm, dry weather, so the Inyo fire crew burned as much as possible over two days. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Working between episodes of wintry weather, the Committee and Inyo fire personnel raced to mitigate the impact of a troublesome invasive plant, Bassia hyssopifolia, that has grown to cover over 70% of the Negit Islets and is preventing California Gulls from nesting successfully.

Despite an initial, discouraging assessment of how well the weeds might burn, in mid-February a long-planned prescribed fire moved forward and resulted in (more…)

Mono Basin Winter Wander field seminars in March

Thursday, February 20th, 2020 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Have you ever visited the Mono Basin in the winter? It is silent, mysterious, and majestic. It is a whole different experience than the hustle and bustle of summertime. Winter invites us to experience the forgotten season and wander in a mountain meadow or along a frozen creek, curious and in awe.

Lee Vining Creek flows between snowy banks in 2017. Photo by Nora Livingston.

We are offering two dates in March for a unique field seminar that investigates the wonders of winter (more…)

Prescribed fire on Mono Lake’s islet in the LA Times

Saturday, February 15th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Louis Sahagun accompanied Mono Lake Committee staff and Inyo National Forest fire personnel to Twain Islet yesterday for the prescribed burn to restore California Gull habitat taken over by the invasive weed Bassia hyssopifolia. Check out Louis’ article here, and if you get the paper, watch for it in tomorrow’s Sunday edition!

Smoke signals good news for Mono Lake’s California Gulls

Friday, February 14th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

If you were lucky enough to be in the Mono Basin—or if you checked out the webcam—the past two crystal clear, glassy water, calm days, you likely would have noticed something unusual rising out over Mono Lake—smoke.

There is no cause for alarm, it’s actually a good sign—especially for California Gulls whose nesting grounds on the Negit Islets are being cleared of an invasive weed in time for the 2020 nesting season.

After much consideration, the Inyo National Forest, Mono Lake Committee, and Point Blue Conservation Science concluded the most efficient course of action was to pursue a prescribed burn to eradicate the invasive weed taking over the gull nesting grounds. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

In a partnership born out of a mutual interest in this critical wildlife habitat protection effort in the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, the Inyo National Forest, the Mono Lake Committee, and Point Blue Conservation Science have been planning and working towards a solution to the recent invasion of Bassia hyssopifolia for three years. The smoke rising from the islets is from a prescribed burn being done to protect gull nesting habitat.

The Mono Lake Committee advocated for a prescribed burn (more…)

Registration is open for 2020 Mono Basin Field Seminars

Saturday, February 1st, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Field Seminar registration opened this morning at 9:00am for Mono Lake Committee members, and sign-ups are going strong! Now is the time to make sure your membership is current and snag spots in the seminar(s) of your choice.

Don’t miss your chance to take a Mono Basin Field Seminar this year! Photo by AnnaLisa Mayer.

This year there are more than 30 seminars to choose from, covering topics such as woodpeckers, small mammals, arborglyphs, oil painting, watercolor painting, geology, and several (more…)

2020 Mono Lake Field Seminars posted online

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2020 Field Seminars is now available online here! Registration opens at 9:00am on Saturday, February 1 for members only.

Check out the whole list of 2020 Mono Lake Field Seminars here! Photo by Rose Nelson.

Take a look at the seminars now so you know what to sign up for in two weeks when registration opens on Friday, February 1 at 9:00am for Mono Lake Committee members only. If you are not a Committee member, but you wish to register in February, you may join the Committee and sign up for the class of your choice at the same time. If you have any questions, you can check the list of frequently asked questionsemail the Field Seminar team, or call (760) 647-6595.

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