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.

Tenth annual Chautauqua a soaring success

Last weekend over 300 people gathered in Lee Vining for the tenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua.

During 76 field trips, workshops, and presentations,

Peter Bergen teaches a group about tracking wildlife. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

participants and leaders observed and celebrated bird life in the Mono Basin. While the Chautauqua does focus on birds, the weekend also includes programs about art, mammals, geology, volunteer restoration work, photography, creative writing, tracking, insects, astronomy, and many more subjects.

Chef Linda Dore cooked up another tasty gala dinner, which felt particularly celebratory during the tenth anniversary weekend.

The Chautauqua culminated on Sunday with the traditional concert, picnic, and bird-calling contest at Mono Lake County Park. Singer-songwriters Keith Greeninger and Dayan Kai treated the audience to several hours of great music, while we feasted on a homemade barbeque organized by local chef and coach Rena McCullough. All proceeds from the picnic went to benefit Lee Vining High School.

Dayan Kai and Keith Greeninger on the County Park "stage." Photo by Rosanne Catron.
Geoff McQuilkin and Rose Catron staff the Committee's table at the picnic, left. Right, Caron Kotalik, Stella Moss, and Rena McCullough prepare delicious lunches at the picnic. Photos by Elin Ljung.

At the end of Sunday’s picnic, everyone trooped out to the end of the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve boardwalk at County Park to demonstrate our love for this very special state park. It is scheduled to be closed next summer, so any show of support for keeping it open is important!

For ten years now, the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua has been a successful eco-tourism event in the Eastern Sierra, filling local motels to the brim and bringing income to businesses that feel the crunch when Tioga Pass doesn’t open until mid- to late-June. Put next year’s Chautauqua on your calendar: June 15–17, 2012!

One comment

  1. this was my first bird chautaugua. after a few minor mishaps i got into
    the swing of things and had a good time. i hope to be able to come
    next year. i will miss the county park if it has to be closed. very sad.
    i thank everyone who put on the event and thanks to all the trip leaders.