Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Spring visitors at Mono Lake: Migrant birds

With our lives seemingly on hold, it can be hard to remember that the internal clock of all the nature around us keeps on ticking and spring is slowly but surely making its way to the Mono Basin.

A gorgeous Black-bellied Plover at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Ramona Robbins Clark.

The Red-winged Blackbirds arrived first and are singing their trademark “b-LEE-dle” song from the trees in town. Then the swallows, Tree first, then Violet-green, came swooping in. Hearing the grinding chirps of Violet-green Swallows on the wires in town is the official sound of spring to me. Yesterday evening at sunset near South Tufa, I heard Osprey calling and Sage Thrashers singing. Spring has sprung!

With our normal migrants come “transients,” birds that aren’t common to an area, but sometimes travel through and need a break on their way. Local couple, and longtime Mono Lake Committee supporters/alumni, Paul & Ramona Clark had the good fortune to find two Black-bellied Plovers on the northwest shore of the lake on April 4, exactly 42 years after 100 Black-bellied Plovers were counted at Mono Lake—a high count for the species in Mono County. This species has been reported a handful of times in the last few decades, but remains a rare sighting. Congrats to Paul & Ramona for the exciting find and many thanks for sharing the sighting with us!

Photo courtesy Ramona Robbins Clark.
Photo by Ramona Robbins Clark.

With the stay-at-home order still in place, it means visitors will miss the spring migration here in the Mono Basin, but we will continue to track it safely on our daily solo or socially distanced walks and wanders near our homes, and share it with you.