We will also view the largest Bank Swallow colony in the Eastern Sierra, enjoy the beautiful song of the Sage Thrasher, the subtle beauty of the Brewer's Sparrow, and if we are really lucky, run into some Bi-State Sage Grouse. These Corvids are known for their spatial memory, complex social interactions, and their elusiveness in the Mono Basin well, some of them.
On this field trip we will explore the habitats and natural history of as many of the local Corvids as possible, with a focus on finding Pinyon Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay in the Rancheria Gulch area. Waterfowl, grebes, terns, pelicans, and shorebirds grace the surface and shore of this popular fishing reservoir.
‘The birds kept me alive through my winter depression’
After birding along the eastern shore of the reservoir we will head north, pausing here and there to investigate the riparian corridor and pinyon pine woodland bordering the East Walker River along Highway Small ponds, springs, and even roadside puddles can act as localized oases in the vast sea of sagebrush. We'll keep our eyes peeled for waterbirds, breeding songbirds, and sagebrush specialists alike. Designated as an Important Bird Area, Black Lake is critical to supporting avian populations: it serves as a breeding outpost for dozens of migrating bird species and also provides a vital water source for pronghorn, mule deer, Great Basin spadefoot toad, and Wong's springsnail.
Join Land Trust staff as they lead an early-morning walking tour of this protected alkali lake and wetland.
Likely sights include rare alkali meadow plants, waterfowl, shorebirds, and, if we are lucky, Loggerhead Shrike. The hike begins at about 8, feet in sagebrush where Brewer's Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee are common. After a short climb, the trail passes water birch and aspen with side streams where birds and butterflies gather. The trail gradually climbs up into junipers and limber pines with Clark's Nutcracker and Townsend's Solitaire.
Dippers are frequently seen on the creek. After a tricky creek crossing, the trail winds through hemlock and lodgepole to a shallow beaver pond. The hike is moderate with some stream crossings and a great variety of birds and plants. Bring a lunch. A tiny spring at the head of the canyon nourishes a series of small aspen groves and provides water for a broad diversity of bird life. The steep canyon walls are covered in Jeffrey pine, many of which burned in the Clark Fire, and the rocky rim offers an impressive backdrop to this hidden gem.
We will hike down into the canyon and all over this small basin while we search for a fun array of bird species. Lazuli Bunting and Black-headed Grosbeak will be singing among the aspens, while Western Tanager and Cassin's Finch course through the pines. The grassland habitat invites Western Kingbird and Vesper Sparrow, and woodpecker species may include Lewis's and Black-backed woodpeckers, along with the expected Hairy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker.
Expect a moderately difficult two-mile hike as we zig-zag across uneven, untracked terrain. Note that there is no restroom in the canyon and little protection from the sun, so please be prepared. This trip will explore the unique and rarely traveled canyon formed by Dry Creek—an ephemeral stream carving a deep canyon through the gently sloping northwest slope of the Glass Mountains.
16 dazzling facts about hummingbirds
With a couple of short strolls less than one mile each on and off forest dirt roads, we'll take a holistic journey through the natural and cultural history of old-growth Jeffrey pines, young lodgepole forests, and shimmering aspen groves accompanied by the incidental music of this hidden stream. We'll probably see a diverse passel of birdies, too. Please bring water and a snack; expect 45 miles of stunningly scenic round trip driving.
We'll begin in the aspen and conifer riparian ecosystem along Virginia Creek and its adjacent sagebrush-steppe. We'll continue on to the Virginia Lakes area, near 10, feet above sea level drivable. We hope to see a diverse assemblage of birds, and the scenery should be memorable. If luck is with us, we may see more elusive species like Western Flycatcher, Red Crossbill, or Gray-crowned Rosy-finch.
The mixture of open water, riparian, coniferous, and sagebrush habitats found in this canyon attracts a nice diversity of birds, and these habitats are quite accessible via the main road and short trails along the creek. Since it will be the heart of nesting season, we will likely spend some time observing birds at various stages of their breeding cycles. Expect sapsuckers, woodpeckers, pewees, vireos, jays, nuthatches, creepers, wrens, chickadees, grosbeaks, swallows, warblers, tanagers, juncos, towhees, sparrows, and finches.
We will be walking mostly on dirt roads and trails with some light off-trail walking possible. We'll stroll through a rich variety of habitats including sagebrush, meadow, willow thickets, aspen groves, conifers, and rock outcroppings. Green-tailed Towhee, woodpeckers, warblers, flycatchers, and many others may make an appearance.
With our own cameras we will look for Osprey, orioles, finches, wrens, swallows, and eagles. We will investigate basic wildlife photography technique and take advantage of the morning light. We will develop listening skills while exploring Lee Vining Canyon. Lee Vining Creek drains from the high alpine mountains of Yosemite and Tioga Pass down through the canyon and out into the arid sagebrush scrub surrounding Mono Lake, offering breathtaking views as well as a wide variety of habitats and a diversity of bird sounds.
The goal of this trip is to begin to identify common bird sounds, distinguish between some basic bird song patterns, introduce various ways to "see" a bird song, and link what you are hearing with what you see. Bring your notebook, pencil, binoculars, and ears. It offers a variety of habitats and breathtaking views. Of particular interest is the habitat progression as Lee Vining Creek drains from the high alpine mountains of Yosemite and Tioga Pass down through the canyon and into the arid sagebrush scrub surrounding Mono Lake.
Because of the variety of habitats we'll be visiting, we should see and hear a variety of bird species, including multiple species of warblers, Fox Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Cassin's Finch, woodpeckers, Warbling Vireo, and others. We will not trek all the way to the lakes but will stop at an elevation of about 8, feet near the wilderness boundary. Up to three miles of hiking round trip with spectacular views of lakes, streams, and high peaks.
This may mean a return to Lundy Canyon, or we may visit another location. Along with the flowers, stops for birds are frequent. Plan on a walk of about two miles with a modest elevation gain. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Or are you perhaps the partner of an avid birder, willing to go along but not ready to call yourself a birder? Do you maybe have a cast-off pair of binoculars but don't understand what the numbers on them mean, or how to use them? And what's with bird books: why aren't the birds alphabetized?
If some of the Chautauqua offerings seem over your head or beyond your patience, this is the program for you! We'll go over some basic binocular information, practice using this equipment, and check out some different bird guides. We will be outdoors for this workshop. As we wander, we'll look at some of the more common birds in and around Mono Lake, practice identifying them, and learn about their fascinating natural history.
Mono Lake County Park and the DeChambeau Ponds are our territory, and we should see several varieties of woodpeckers, songbirds, swallows, and blackbirds. This workshop is geared toward ages 10 and up. This short morning trip will walk the two-mile Lee Vining Creek trail loop to find beautiful birds and enjoy views of the rushing creek and the lake from afar.
They were introduced to the Mono Basin in In mid-June rams have often been seen in Lundy Canyon and it may be possible to spot bighorn from the trail. John Wehausen will lead the group there and discuss the history and challenges of restoration efforts for these sheep. We may encounter a good variety of birds from Red-breasted Sapsucker to Mountain Bluebird and warblers to Long-eared Owl no promises. Be prepared to walk a couple of flat, mostly shaded miles and to enjoy spectacular views of the Sierra crest and Mono Lake.
The destination is the Inyo Craters, a few of the region's young volcanic features formed by violent steam eruptions. The craters fill with snowmelt and offer a landing spot for migratory waterbirds. The nearby willows and other vegetation provide great habitat for warblers to forage in and hummingbirds to perch on.
North America has a rich fire folklore that includes gathering and preparing the materials and the tinder bundles, spinning fire, and the significant role the fire plays in creating tools, containers, utensils, and more.
In this class, participants will hear about this rich tradition through story, demonstration, hands-on fire spinning, and bowl and spoon crafting, all practiced at a beautiful campfire circle overlooking Mono Lake where such activities can safely be pursued. This will be a hands-on "dirt time" experience so wear comfortable clothes for sitting around your campfire.
Stops will include Mono Lake's tributary streams to discuss restoration streamflows, Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure, and to Mono Lake to discuss lake level rise. Geoff will describe the Committee's role in forecasting and advocating for the changes we're seeing and will explain the work ahead to continue to safeguard the Mono Basin.
We can plug into this magic no matter how good we are at finding birds with our eyes—these sounds are already coming at us from degrees. The focus of this workshop is to increase our birding enjoyment by improving our skills as auditory birders. Some prior experience trying to identify birds by ear will surely be useful, but motivation to learn is more important than experience; all experience levels are welcome.
We will explore the principles of cognizing and describing bird vocalizations in general as well as become familiar with specific vocalizations of common birds in the Mono Basin. This workshop is a prerequisite for the Saturday and Sunday Bird sounds field studies and Chipmunks are familiar campground inhabitants, but distinguishing the six species that inhabit the Mono Basin can be difficult. We'll check a set of live traps near Lee Vining, then visit Lee Vining Canyon looking for opportunities to observe chipmunks in the field.
We should be able to see Sagebrush, Yellow Pine, and Lodgepole chipmunks and we'll discuss other good locations in the Mono Basin to look for chipmunks and other mammals that may be out during the day.
Book Review: “The Bird King” — Nothing But Enchantment
Open to kids of all ages. Then the group will take a walk up Lundy Canyon with frequent stops to discuss mining history and some of the natural features of this special place. Now, with just a little instruction, you can master ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focus mode.
Many amateur photographers have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a camera that they use only on the automatic setting. Think of it as a self-driving Ferrari of which you never take the wheel. Learn to take control of your camera and you can, with a little practice, end up with only an in-focus branch where a bird once sat. This afternoon trip will walk part of the two-mile Lee Vining Creek trail loop and then head down to lower Lee Vining Creek and the Lee Vining Creek delta, where the fresh water joins the salty lake and creates a lush habitat for blackbirds, flycatchers, buntings, and sparrows, and where waterbirds bathe in the crystal clear creek.
Among the birds to be expected include sapsuckers, woodpeckers, pewees, vireos, jays, nuthatches, creepers, wrens, chickadees, grosbeaks, swallows, warblers, tanagers, juncos, towhees, sparrows, and finches. Observe brine shrimp, alkali flies, and birds along the lakeshore. Discover aquatic insects and songbirds along the creek. Bring towels and appropriate clothes and footwear for wading or even swimming. We often think of the changing fire regime in terms of increases in fire size, but other fire characteristics beyond size may also be as important in shaping post-fire wildlife communities.
Rodney Siegel will discuss the concept of pyrodiversity, explain why pyrodiversity matters for maintaining biodiversity in Sierra Nevada forests, and provide examples of actions or approaches land managers might take to enhance pyrodiversity to benefit wildlife. Yet more than 46 species of our feathered friends thrive under these conditions. We will explore the sea-based birds with reputations almost as large as their wingspan: albatross, petrels, and shearwaters. Then we will wander ashore to learn about grass-based species such as the beautiful Long-tailed Meadowlark and endemic species such as Cobb's Wren.
Of course no trip to the Southern Ocean would be complete without a treatise on the seven amazingly well-adapted penguin species that manage to bring a smile to everyone. Meet old friends, chat with field trip leaders and presenters, socialize, eat, and make merry.