Nineteenth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua Program

*subject to change before April 15*

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Virtual Chautauqua June 10-11, 2022

Friday June 10, 4:00pm-7:00pm


Birdability: because birding is for everybody and every body! (virtual presentation)
Freya McGregor (she/her)
Birding is an activity that can bring so much joy and empowerment to everybody, but not everybody is able to go birding easily. Birdability is a brand new non-profit, based in the US but with a global reach. Through education, outreach and advocacy, Birdability works to ensure the birding community and the outdoors are welcoming, inclusive, safe and accessible for everybody. We focus on people with mobility challenges, blindness or low vision, chronic illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental illness, and those who are neurodivergent, deaf or hard of hearing or who have other health concerns. In addition to current birders, we strive to introduce birding to people with disabilities and other health concerns who are not yet birders so they too can experience the joys of birding. 
  Learn about why this should matter to you (even if you don't have an accessibility challenge), ways to be a more welcoming and inclusive birder, the Birdability Map (and how to submit a Birdability Site Review) and resources for birders (and potential future birders) with accessibility challenges... because birding is for everybody and every body! Learn more and find resources at birdability.org or follow @birdability on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
4:00pm–5:00pm

 

Topic: Climate Change and birds (virtual presentation)
Juan Pablo Galván Martínez
Title and description coming soon
5:00pm–6:00pm

 

Spotties along the shore: ecological variation and reproductive behavior of Spotted Sandpipers in the Mono Basin (virtual presentation)
Jessica Schaefer
Mono Lake and the surrounding streams provide vital habitat for waterbirds and shorebirds at different life stages. While species such as Wilson’s Phalaropes and Eared Grebes use the lake as a stopover on migration, other species like Spotted Sandpipers, Actitis macularius, stay in the Mono Basin throughout the summer to breed. Recognizable by their characteristic tail bob and “weet weet” call, Spotted Sandpipers have an unusual mating system where females can pair with multiple males simultaneously, while males are the primary caretakers of eggs and offspring. They are widespread across North America, but little is known about their behavior in high elevation habitats including lakes and streams of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. For species with broad geographic ranges, successful breeding might require behavioral flexibility—the ability to shift behavior depending on the environment. Jessica’s research explores variation in reproductive behavior of Spotted Sandpipers across habitats that differ in food resources, predation risk, social environment, and abiotic factors. In this talk, Jessica will share her ongoing research on the mating and parenting behaviors of Spotted Sandpipers breeding in the Mono Basin and surrounding area.

6:00pm–6:45pm

 

Saturday June 11, 4:00pm-6:30pm


Bird sounds (virtual presentation)
Roy Poucher
Bird vocalization is nature’s language and bird songs are nature’s music. We can plug into the magic of this no matter how good we are at finding birds with our eyes. These sounds are already coming to us from 360 degrees. The focus of this presentation is to increase our birding enjoyment by improving our skills as auditory birders. Folks of 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 the birds we are likely to encounter in the Mono Basin area.

4:00pm–5:00pm

 

Greater sage-grouse reproductive strategies and conservation
Katie Smith
Greater sage-grouse are appreciated in the western United States for their beautiful plumage and extraordinary courtship displays. The relevance of sage-grouse in sagebrush ecosystems allows them to serve as an umbrella species and broaden the impact of conservation efforts. Despite their significance, sage-grouse populations have suffered from the encroachment of anthropogenic disturbances. Noise pollution, fires, industrialization, and other stressors are known to have detrimental effects on the lekking behavior and reproductive success of this iconic bird. Scientists are working to elucidate how changes in environmental conditions may adjust sage-grouse stress, lek attendance, nest-site fidelity, and even offspring sex ratios. In this talk, we will explore current sage-grouse research and how this work is contributing towards our understanding, conservation, and restoration of these beautiful birds and their declining habitat.
5:00pm–5:45pm

 

Behavioral Responses to Climate Change of Chipmunks of the Sierra Nevada
Kwasi Wrensford

Climate change is rapidly altering animal habitat across the globe. To cope, animals must find novel strategies to survive and thrive under this new normal. Using two of our local Eastern Sierra chipmunk species, Kwasi's work seeks to understand how vulnerable mountain animal populations are responding to our changing climate, and what these responses may tell us about how our ecosystems may look in the future.
5:45pm–6:30pm





Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua June 17-19, 2022


Friday June 17, 2022


101: Mono County big day (field trip)
Colin Dillingham
The main theme of this program is to observe a wide variety of birds by visiting several habitats. The pace will be less frantic than other big day birding tours so there will be more time to focus on bird identification by sight, sound, and behavior. The group will concentrate on the southern part of the Mono Basin; from conifer forest above the June Lake Loop to riparian woodland, to sagebrush steppe and the Jeffrey pine burn area near Mono Mills. Please bring hand-held radios for communication between vehicles if you have them. We will be out all day so be sure to bring lunch, sunscreen, and plenty of water. (est. driving miles: 110; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 6:00am–4:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


103: Crowley Lake: Sagebrush & waterbirds galore (field trip)
Debbie House
Crowley Lake Reservoir, cradled in the Long Valley Caldera and formed by the damming of the Owens River, offers spectacular views of the High Sierra to the west and Glass Mountain and White Mountain to the east. Crowley is nestled amid a mix of sagebrush, wet meadows, and small alkali lakes, attracting a variety of breeding and migrant waterbirds. June is the peak of the breeding season, so we should see Eared, Pied-billed, Western, and possibly Clark’s Grebes engaging in nesting activity at the breeding colony at the delta. In addition, we should see several other species of waterbirds that are either nesting, over-summering, non-breeding individuals, late spring migrants, and possibly even early fall migrants such as Wilson’s Phalaropes! Although June is a relatively stable period in the local bird population, there are still always some birds on the move. We will also get a view of the largest Bank Swallow colony in the Eastern Sierra. (est. driving miles: 80; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–3:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

105: Birding Wildrose Canyon (field trip)
Mary Clapp
Wildrose Canyon is an isolated riparian corridor and aspen grove in the Glass Mountain Range that hosts a variety of awesome species along its mile-long stretch—Calliope Hummingbird, Plumbeous Vireo, Cooper’s Hawk, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Dusky Flycatcher, and Lazuli Buntings are some species you may see. There is a chance to see (or hear) the elusive Virginia’s Warbler. Join Mary on a walk up this gem of a canyon—it’s worth the drive! Bring water and sun protection, as well as snacks or lunch. (est. driving miles: 100; hiking difficulty: moderate)
6:30am–12:00noon

Lee Vining Community Center

 

107: Crafty Corvids east of the crest (field trip)
Nora Livingston
Jays, magpies, nutcrackers, and ravens are the Eastside’s intellectual avian troublemakers and problem solvers. 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. (est. driving miles: 40; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–12:00noon

Lee Vining Community Center

 

109: Bird sounds (field trip)
Roy Poucher
This field study is the “hands-on” companion to the virtual presentation “Bird Sounds” on June 11. The goal is to solidify the general techniques explored during the virtual presentation and provide practical experience with field identification of specific Mono Basin bird sounds. We will primarily be standing at different locations for short time segments, silently noting on paper what bird sounds we are individually hearing, and next, as a group, discussing, analyzing, and identifying these sounds. Though useful, binoculars are not necessary. Please bring a small notebook. We recommend that you attend the virtual presentation on June 11 or view the recording prior to this field trip. Total walking distance will be about 2 miles with some moderately strenuous terrain at an elevation of up to 9,000 ft. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center


111: Birding DeChambeau Ponds & Ranch (field trip)
Leader(s) Ryan Garrett & Thomas Torres
Fresh water sources are few and far between in the Mono Basin. Small ponds, springs, and even roadside puddles can act as localized oases in the vast sea of sagebrush. Join Ryan and Thomas to learn about the recent restoration of the DeChambeau ponds, and to scour some of these productive hot spots along Mono Lake’s north shore, including DeChambeau Ranch, DeChambeau Ponds, and time allowing, the County Ponds. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for waterbirds, breeding songbirds, and sagebrush specialists alike. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am

Hess Park

 

113: Oasis in the desert: Alkali wetlands at Black Lake Preserve (field trip)
Claire Marvet, Kelly Muller & Kay Ogden
A rare wetland between the Benton Range and Black Mountain, Adobe Valley’s Black Lake is home to a vast variety of unusual flora and fauna. 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. Thanks to a generous property donation in 2014, Black Lake Preserve is now owned by Eastern Sierra Land Trust. 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. (est. driving miles: 130; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am

Hess Park


115: Bird photography in the field (field trip)
Bob Steele
Join professional bird photographer Bob Steele as we explore digital bird photography in the field. Along the shore of Mono Lake at Old Marina, we’ll look for easy-to-photograph subjects to allow the primary focus to be on technique and fundamentals. Topics discussed and explained will include camera setup, equipment, exposure techniques, composition, flash use, digital field evaluation of images, and approaching subjects. Minimum equipment requirements for the workshop are: digital SLR body (or mirrorless); 300mm lens; teleconverters (optional), tripod (optional), and flash (if available). For more information about Bob, and to see more of his photography, check out his website: bobsteelephoto.com. (est. driving miles: 5, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

117: Mono’s forgotten tributary: Water, wildlife, & history of Dry Creek (field trip)
Paul McFarland
East of Mono Lake’s well-traveled tributaries, a mysterious creek sometimes flows north from the world’s largest Jeffrey pine forest down (literally) into bitterbrush and alkali flats. This trip will explore Dry Creek to its headwaters at the gentle crest of the central Glass Mountains. 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. (est. driving miles: 45; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00am–3:00pm

Hess Park

 

119: Birding McGee Canyon (field trip)
Tom Hahn
McGee is a spectacular, colorful, metamorphic canyon with a strong creek running through it. The hike begins at about 8,000 feet in sagebrush where Brewer’s Sparrow and Green-tailed Towhee are common. Lazuli Buntings are common in the streamside aspens. After a short climb, the trail passes water birch and aspen with side streams where birds (e.g., MacGillivray’s, Orange-crowned, Wilson’s and Yellow Warblers) and butterflies gather. The trail gradually climbs up into junipers and limber pines with Clark’s Nutcracker, Hermit Thrush 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. (est. driving miles: 80; hiking difficulty: strenuous)
Friday 7:00am–2:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

121: Convict Lake: Birds & botany, rocks & remnants (field trip)
Rodd Kelsey
Mile-long Convict Lake, located at 7,600 feet above sea level about 40 miles south of Lee Vining, lies in a glacial basin under Laurel Mountain and Mount Morrison, two towering metamorphic peaks. The trail encircling the lake goes through a range of habitats with a high diversity of shrubs, trees, and flowers, including many uncommon and interesting species of plants. Expect to see many characteristic Eastern Sierra birds including Yellow Warbler, House Wren, Green-tailed Towhee, Dusky Flycatcher, and Red-breasted Sapsucker. Other species ranging from Calliope Hummingbird to Bald Eagle may also be found. Convict Creek, which can be viewed safely from a boardwalk, roars into the west end of the lake. Wear sturdy shoes, and bring your binoculars and a snack. A walking stick is helpful for short sections of the trail. (est. driving miles: 80; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00am–12:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

123: Hiking Clark Canyon (field trip)
Stephen Shunk
In the shadow of Bald Mountain lies the little-known Clark Canyon. 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 2016 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 anticipated 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. (est. driving miles: 50; hiking difficulty: strenuous)
Friday 7:00am–12:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

125: Snag forest bird walk (field trip)
Maya Khosla
On this trip we’ll explore recently burned forests through both a scientific and an artistic lens. We’ll discuss exciting, new scientific findings based on recent searches for nests and Maya will share some of her new poetry along the way. We will look for snag-dependent birds like White-headed, Hairy, Lewis’s, Black-backed woodpeckers, Williamson’s Sapsucker and secondary cavity nesters like Mountain Bluebird and Tree Swallow. We’ll discuss the many ways that mixed-intensity fire supports biodiversity and ecological health in our conifer forests, and a habitat created by high-intensity fire called “complex early seral forest,” which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and yet the most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. (est. total driving miles: 55; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00am–12:00noon

Hess Park


127: Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip)
Jon Dunn
We will head up Lundy Canyon with open minds regarding what we may see, enjoying the wonderful assemblage of breeding birds in this Eastern Sierra drainage. 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. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

129: Birding Burger’s Retreat (field trip)
Susan Steele
We’ll drive up and over a steep moraine out of Lee Vining Canyon on our way to a privately-owned secluded nature reserve only a short distance from the masses of visitors passing through Yosemite. 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. (est. driving miles: 6; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

131: Walk quietly & carry a big lens (field trip)
Santiago M. Escruceria
Join this trip for an easily accessible and gentle stroll next to a beautiful riparian corridor to photograph birds. 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. (est. driving miles: 22; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am

Hess Park

 

133: Learning to listen: Birding by ear for beginners (field trip)
Karyn “Kestrel” O’Hearn
This is a field trip and workshop for those who want to begin to identify birds by sound. 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. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

135: Birding Lee Vining Canyon (field trip)
Will Richardson
Lee Vining Canyon is one of the Eastern Sierra’s premier birding locations. 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. American Dipper, Townsend’s Solitaire, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and nuthatches are among the many species that we may see. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

137: Birding the June Lake Loop (field trip)
Jora Fogg
This beautiful driving loop has a variety of habitats—open water (lakes) with shorelines, aspen riparian, marsh (emergent vegetation), mountain sagebrush-scrub, and coniferous forest. Our birds will vary with each habitat from waterbirds to woodpeckers. This is a drive with multiple stops and short strolls. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–11:00am

Hess Park


139: Birding for beginners (field trip)
Lacey Greene
Are you new to watching birds? Or are you perhaps the partner of an avid birder, willing to go along but not ready to call yourself a birder? 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. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 8:00am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

141: Bennettville birding (field trip)
Karen Amstutz
Come look for birds 9,700 feet above the sea! High in the mountains this 2.5-mile trail winds its way through red metamorphic rocky benches, past blue-green tarns and ruins from the days of the Great Sierra Consolidated Mining Company. A flurry of development had this region growing from 1882–1884 though no gold was ever found. Here some unique birds breed while others pass through on their way to lower elevations. Let’s search for the ghosts and see what birds dare to spend summers way up here. Summer residents include Cassin’s Finch, White-crowned Sparrow, Clark’s Nutcracker, Chipping Sparrow, Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Spotted Sandpiper, Northern Goshawk, and possibly some surprises. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 8:30am–1:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

143: Field Journaling among the Wildflowers (field trip)
Sue Jorgenson
Get up close and personal with the Mono Basin wildflowers! Starting with County Park, Sue will lead you to and through several wildflower locations (TBD). You'll learn about wildflower habitats and bioregions, and, using field journaling methods and a magnifying glass, you'll be drawn into following your curiosity, gaining new perspectives and deepening your connections to Nature. The wildflower season is very short in the Mono Basin, but spectacularly intense. Field journaling techniques include using watercolors, pen or pencil, camera, even written or recorded words - the keyword is portability. Please include a journal of some kind, a magnifying glass or hand lens, a hat, sunscreen, and water among your supplies. Beginners welcome! (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 8:30am–1:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

145: Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep afield (field trip)
John Wehausen
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are a separate subspecies of bighorn sheep that have state and federal endangered species status. They were restored to the Mono Basin in 1986. In mid-June these sheep often use Lundy Canyon and it may be possible to spot them from the trail. John Wehausen will lead the group there and discuss the history and challenges of restoration efforts for these sheep. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: strenuous)
Friday 8:30am–1:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

146: Squirrels and friends: Observing the mammals of the High Sierra
Kwasi Wrensford

Many mammals call the higher reaches of the Sierra Nevada home. When you can't migrate like a bird, figuring out how to make the most of the brief warm months is imperative to surviving the cold mountain winters. Join Kwasi to hike around gorgeous Saddlebag Lake to observe these animals going about their busy summer days, putting on weight, collecting stores, and preparing for their next snowy season! (est. driving miles: 15; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 8:30am 12:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center


147: Birding Lower Parker Canyon (field trip)
Santiago M. Escruceria
On this leisurely bird walk on level terrain through lower Parker Canyon we will explore riparian and meadow habitats in this quiet region of the Mono Basin. 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. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–5:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


149: Birds of the red fir-lodgepole pine forest (field trip)
David Wimpfheimer
The expansive forest of red fir, lodgepole, and Jeffrey pine surrounding Deadman Creek and Summit is the destination for this field trip. We will learn about how these conifers, and more importantly, their cones and seeds, provide critical feeding habitat for many finches, woodpeckers, warblers, and other birds. Uncommon species like Williamson’s Sapsucker, plus White-headed and Black-backed woodpeckers may be found here. Depending on the seed crop, Red Crossbill can be moderately common in the pines. Cassin’s Finch and Pine Siskin are the common breeding finches here, but uncommon conifer species are occasionally seen. The diversity in the area is augmented by aspen groves and streamside willow stands. The field trip will consist of several short walks in which we focus on identification and behavior of a wide variety of birds and the ecology of the trees that surround us. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–5:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


151: Small mammals in the high country (field trip)
John Harris
Learn about the Mono Basin’s diverse alpine mammal fauna, their adaptations to the alpine environment, and conservation status. We’ll take a short hike at Saddlebag Lake (elevation 10,100 ft) looking for such alpine mammal specialties as Pika, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Belding Ground Squirrel, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, Chickaree, Alpine and Lodgepole Chipmunks, and other species. (est. driving miles: 13, hiking difficulty: moderate due to elevation, some walking on talus)
Friday 1:00pm–4:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


153: Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip)
Sarah Hockensmith
We will head up Lundy Canyon to enjoy the wonderful assemblage of breeding birds in this Eastern Sierra drainage. The mixture of open water, riparian, coniferous, and sagebrush habitats found in this canyon attracts a nice diversity of birds. 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. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 1:30pm–5:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


155: Touring policy hot spots (field trip)
Geoff McQuilkin
Join Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin for a tour of the Mono Basin with discussions focusing on hot policy and management topics as well as current water conditions and what they mean for Mono Lake and the tributary streams. Stops will include Mono Lake’s tributary streams to discuss restoration streamflows, Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure, and 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. (est. driving miles: 40; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 1:30pm–4:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


157: Casual nature photography (field trip)
Darren Cook
This field trip emphasizes the beauty of patience in nature and what you can behold if you take the time to look and listen. Join Darren, who picked up a camera at the start of the pandemic and has since fallen in love with wildlife photography, on this mellow meander to find natural subjects to photograph and take beautiful memories home. Darren is not an expert at identifying all of the Mono Basin birds, but he is a passionate nature lover and has a knack for spotting critters in their habitat. This trip is for anyone with a camera who loves to be outside, soaking it all in. Possible bird species include Mountain Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Bullock’s Oriole, Red-breasted Sapsucker, and many more. All levels of birders and photographers welcome. (est. driving miles: 10; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 2:00pm–5:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center


159: Twilight birding (field trip)
Ryan Garrett
Late June brings some of the longest and most active birding days of the year in the Mono Basin. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots in the Mono Basin for early evening activity that may include shorebirds, waterfowl, nighthawks, poorwills, and winnowing snipe. We will also search for owls once night falls. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather after the sun sets. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


161: Twilight birding 2 (field trip)
Ryan DiGaudio
This program will wind its way up Lundy Canyon as the twilight sets in. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots for early evening activity that may include poorwills, bats, and, if you’re lucky, a beaver. We will also search for owls once night falls. Bring layers for cooler weather after the sun sets and please bring a headlamp or flashlight. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


163: Twilight Birding 3 (field trip)
Stephen Shunk
Late June brings some of the longest and most active birding days of the year in the Mono Basin. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots in the Mono Basin for early evening activity that may include nighthawks, poorwills, and owls. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather after the sun sets. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


165: Bats in Lee Vining Canyon (field trip)
Burleigh Lockwood & Erin Naegle
Join this field trip for an evening bat walk in Lee Vining Canyon. While waiting for darkness to fall, Burleigh and Erin will beguile us with a captivating introduction into the biologic and behavioral world of bats. We will then head out to Lee Vining Canyon to “see” the bats using Sonobat Live acoustical monitoring equipment. This will allow us to identify each bat by species through an almost instantaneous analysis of their ultrasonic echolocation calls as they fly over. (est. driving miles: 10; hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30pm–10:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


167: Enchanted evening: Stories & stars on the lakeshore (outdoor presentation)
Ane Carla Rovetta & Lisa Murphy
In the days before internet, television, and radio, there were more Chautauquas, campfires, and storytelling. We bring them all together under the splendor of a dark Mono Basin sky where stories and stars come alive. Master storyteller Ane Carla Rovetta will usher in the creatures of the night with her vivid and illuminating natural history stories and legends. Lisa Murphy, night sky enthusiast, will lead us across the night sky for an evening of astronomical wonder. Bring a blanket or low chair and dress warmly. This program is open to humans of all ages! (est. driving miles: 22)

Friday 8:00pm–9:30pm

South Tufa


Meet at the South Tufa site. From Lee Vining, drive approximately 5 miles south on Hwy 395. Turn left on Hwy 120 East and travel another 5 miles to the South Tufa/Navy Beach turn-off. Turn left following the signs to the left toward the South Tufa parking lot.




Saturday June 18, 2022


201: Birding the June Lake Loop (field trip)
Jon Dunn
This beautiful driving loop has a variety of habitats—open water (lakes) with shorelines, aspen riparian, marsh (emergent vegetation), mountain sagebrush-scrub, and coniferous forest. Our birds will vary with each habitat from waterbirds to woodpeckers. This is a drive with multiple stops and short strolls. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:00am–12:00noon

Lee Vining Community Center

 

203: DeChambeau to Virginia Lakes (field trip)
Nora Livingston
We’ve all seen how habitats change as you make your way up a mountain pass in the Eastern Sierra. Small changes in elevation can dramatically alter bird diversity and species richness within each habitat. On this field trip, we will explore two opposite sides of the Mono Basin habitat and elevation spectrum—lakeside marsh and sagebrush scrub (~6,500 feet above sea level) and high elevation sub-alpine habitat (~9,770 feet) at Virginia Lakes. We’ll also make a few stops in between to see a diversity of species in these vastly different habitats. We will start low in search of sagebrush birds like Sage Thrasher, Green-tailed Towhee, Sagebrush Sparrow, and others, then work our way up to Virginia Lakes where we hope to see and hear Hermit Thrush, White-crowned Sparrow, Bald Eagle, and, if we are very lucky, catch a glimpse of the elusive Gray-crowned Rosy-finch. Bring lunch and plenty of water; we will picnic at the Virginia Lakes trailhead. (est. driving miles: 50; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 6:00am–11:00am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

205: Big Day & more! Southern basin transect (field trip)
David Wimpfheimer
The main theme of this program is to observe a wide variety of birds by visiting several habitats. However, there is also a secondary focus on taking the time to appreciate plants and other aspects of the area’s rich natural history. The pace will be less frantic than other big day birding tours so there will be more time to focus on bird identification by sight, sound, and behavior. The group will concentrate on the southern part of the Mono Basin; from conifer forest above the June Lake Loop to riparian woodland, to sagebrush steppe and the Jeffrey pine burn area near Mono Mills. Please bring your hand-held radios for communication between vehicles if you have them. We will be out all day so be sure to bring lunch, sunscreen, and plenty of water. (est. driving miles: 110; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–4:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

207: Birds of the Bodie Hills (field trip)
Jora Fogg
The Bodie Hills form the northern boundary of the Mono Basin and provide excellent habitat for the Bi-State Sage Grouse, a genetically distinct population of the Greater Sage Grouse, and many other birds and wildlife species. We will spend the morning exploring two historic mine sites and birding in aspen, sagebrush and meadow habitats. Then we’ll go over the Geiger Grade to explore high elevation shrub habitats looking out for sagebrush species, and if we are lucky, view pronghorn antelope. Targets of the trip include Sage Grouse, Mountain Quail, Western Tanager, Common Nighthawk, and several species of warbler, wren, flycatcher and vireo. The route includes exceptional views of the Sierra Nevada and surrounding mountain ranges. Bring sunscreen, water, lunch, and good walking shoes. This trip involves extensive driving on dirt roads, and it is necessary to carpool due to limited parking along the route. (est. driving miles: 80, high clearance required; hiking difficulty: moderate) 
Saturday 6:30am–3:30pm

Hess Park

 

209: Crowley Lake: Marshes, migrants, mountains, & mud (field trip)
Dave Shuford
Crowley Lake Reservoir, cradled in the Long Valley Caldera and formed by the damming of the Owens River, offers spectacular views of the High Sierra to the west and the Glass Mountain and White Mountain ranges to the east. Crowley is nestled amid a mix of sagebrush, wet meadows, and small alkali lakes, attracting a variety of breeding and migrant waterbirds. June is the peak of the breeding season, so we should see several species of nesting ducks, shorebirds, and grebes, plus some over-summering non-breeders and late migrants. 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 Greater Sage-Grouse. (est. driving miles: 80; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–3:00pm

Hess Park

 

211: Bird sounds (field trip)
Roy Poucher
This field study is the “hands-on” companion to the virtual presentation “Bird Sounds” on June 11. The goal is to solidify the general techniques explored during the virtual presentation and provide practical experience with field identification of specific Mono Basin bird sounds. We will primarily be standing at different locations for short time segments, silently noting on paper what bird sounds we are individually hearing, and next, as a group, discussing, analyzing, and identifying these sounds. Though useful, binoculars are not necessary. Please bring a small notebook. We recommend that you attend the virtual presentation on June 11 or view the recording prior to this field trip. Total walking distance will be about 2 miles with some moderately strenuous terrain at an elevation of up to 9,000 ft. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

213: Birding the Bridgeport Valley (field trip)
Ted Beedy & Keith Hansen
Join Ted and Keith for an exploration of wetlands and lake habitats of Bridgeport Reservoir. Bridgeport Reservoir sits within beautiful Bridgeport Valley between the Sierra Nevada and the Sweetwaters. Waterfowl, grebes in courtship, terns, pelicans, and shorebirds grace the surface and shores of this popular fishing reservoir that also attracts a diversity of raptors such as Bald Eagle and Osprey. A pair of Sandhill Cranes has been nesting at Bridgeport Reservoir and there is a chance of seeing or hearing these rare Mono County birds. Participants typically see more than 60 species of birds on this field trip. (est. driving miles: 65; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

215: Intermediate bird photography in the field (field trip)
Bob Steele
Join professional bird photographer Bob Steele as we explore the finer points of digital bird photography to improve our skills. If you know your camera well and don’t need a lot of introduction on how to use it, this outing is for you. Topics discussed will include birds in flight, dealing with tricky light, getting close to difficult birds, and more. If you’ve just switched to mirrorless, or are seriously considering it, Bob will discuss the latest in mirrorless technology and the advantages in the field.  Minimum equipment requirements for the workshop are: digital SLR body (or mirrorless); 300mm lens; teleconverters (optional), tripod (optional), and flash (if available). This trip will go to a different area than Bob’s Friday morning photo walk. For more information about Bob, and to see more of his photography, check out his website: bobsteelephoto.com. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–11:00am

Hess Park


217: Birding McGee Canyon (field trip)
Rodd Kelsey
McGee is a spectacular, colorful, metamorphic canyon with a strong creek running through it. The hike begins at about 8,000 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. (est. driving miles: 80; hiking difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
Saturday 7:00am–2:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

219: Birds & burns (field trip)
Stephen Shunk
Join this field trip for an interpretive journey through one of the Eastern Sierra’s most under-appreciated ecosystems and an introduction to local forest ecology, including the critical role of fire and the keystone roles of forest-dwelling woodpeckers. Wandering through blackened columns left by lightning-caused fires, we’ll discover a new world of wildflowers, sprouting shrubs, and once-proud pines fast becoming homes for Black-backed and Hairy woodpeckers and a whole suite of other cavity-dwellers. Expect several moderate meanders for a total of approximately three miles. (est. driving miles: 50; hiking difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
Saturday 7:00am–12:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


221: Snag forest bird walk (field trip)
Maya Khosla
On this trip we’ll explore recently burned forests through both a scientific and an artistic lens. We’ll discuss exciting, new scientific findings based on recent searches for nests and Maya will share some of her new poetry along the way. We will look for snag-dependent birds like White-headed, Hairy, Lewis’s, Black-backed woodpeckers, Williamson’s Sapsucker and secondary cavity nesters like Mountain Bluebird and Tree Swallow. We’ll discuss the many ways that mixed-intensity fire supports biodiversity and ecological health in our conifer forests, and a habitat created by high-intensity fire called “complex early seral forest,” which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and yet the most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. (est. total driving miles: 55; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:00am–12:00noon

Hess Park


223: Birding Horse Meadow (field trip)
Karyn “Kestrel” O’Hearn
Horse Meadow is perched up among moraines south of Lee Vining Canyon, situated between stunning views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs, and a gorgeous, bird’s-eye view of Mono Lake. In this less-traveled area of the Mono Basin our walk will explore Upper Horse Meadow and environs, including the mix of meadow, sagebrush, aspen, and conifer forest habitats, which often provides a wide range of bird sightings. (est. driving miles: 15; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:00am–11:30am

Hess Park

 

225: Birding Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve (field trip)
Rosie and Chris Howard
Located above the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Valentine Camp is a 156-acre property managed by the University of California at 8000-8500 feet. It has been protected from entry and grazing since the early 1900's and features remarkably pristine sub-alpine habitat including montane forest, chaparral, sagebrush, riparian, wet montane meadow, and seep and spring vegetation. Birdlife is plentiful and varied here, particularly those birds who enjoy mature coniferous forests (Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet), mixed montane woodland (Western Tanager, Western Wood-Pewee), and sagebrush expanses (Green-tailed Towhee, Fox Sparrow). We'll keep our ears open for Mountain Quail, more often heard than seen. We have been granted special permission to access the property and will hike the private trails through this wonderland. Participants are required to sign a waiver of liability before entering the property. This trip involves walking on a narrow steep trail with some stairs with an elevation gain of approximately 400ft. Not appropriate for persons with breathing or mobility concerns (est. driving miles: 60 round-trip from Lee Vining; hiking difficulty: moderately strenuous).
Saturday 7:00am–11:30am 

Lee Vining Community Center

 

227: Mono Basin Brush Birds (field trip)
Tom Hahn
Some of the most ubiquitous habitats in the Mono Basin are the brushy shrub-steppe and dry chaparral. The dominant plants of these habitats achieve at most “large shrub” stature. These habitats are home to some of the signature land birds of the Great Basin, and the Mono Basin is one of the best places in the world to observe and get to know these fascinating species. On this field trip we will focus our attention on exploring brushy habitats of the Basin and adjoining Eastern Sierra slope and spend our time observing and discussing the habits of Brewer’s Sparrows, Sagebrush Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhees, Spotted Towhees, Fox Sparrows, Sage Thrashers, Gray Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Vesper Sparrows. A surprising number of other species also make extensive use of the shrub-steppe and chaparral, including House Finches, Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Wrens, Lazuli Buntings and Mourning Doves. We will of course take what comes, but the main objective of this trip is to spend time observing and getting to know the behavior, sounds, and natural history of the common brush-land species, rather than maximizing our species list for the day. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate, little shade)
Saturday 7:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center

229: Birding Burger’s Retreat (field trip)
Will Richardson
We’ll drive up and over a steep moraine out of Lee Vining Canyon on our way to a privately-owned secluded nature reserve only a short distance from the masses of visitors passing through Yosemite. We’ll stroll through a rich variety of habitats including sagebrush, meadow, willow thickets, aspen groves, conifers, and rocks. Green-tailed Towhee, woodpeckers, warblers, flycatchers, and many others may make an appearance. (est. driving miles: 6; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

231: Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip)
Sarah Hockensmith
Spend a morning enjoying birds and other wildlife in one of the Mono Basin’s most spectacular locations—Lundy Canyon. The mixture of aspen-cottonwood-willow riparian habitat with mature conifers provides prime habitat for a variety of Eastern Sierra birds. The awesome scenery, including displays of wildflowers, picturesque historical sites, beaver lodges, butterflies, and breathtaking rocky peaks should provide additional flavor to the outing. During one to two miles of walking, we will make a special effort to locate nesting birds, as well as to locate birds by song. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

233: Casual nature photography (field trip)
Darren Cook
This field trip emphasizes the beauty of patience in nature and what you can behold if you take the time to look and listen. Join Darren, who picked up a camera at the start of the pandemic and has since fallen in love with wildlife photography, on this mellow meander to find natural subjects to photograph and take beautiful memories home. Darren is not an expert at identifying all of the Mono Basin birds, but he is a passionate nature lover and has a knack for spotting critters in their habitat. This trip is for anyone with a camera who loves to be outside, soaking it all in. Possible bird species include Mountain Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Bullock’s Oriole, Red-breasted Sapsucker, and many more. All levels of birders and photographers welcome. (est. driving miles: 10; hiking difficulty: easy)

Saturday 7:00am–11:00am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

235: Birding Lee Vining Canyon (field trip)
Ryan DiGaudio
Lee Vining Canyon is one of the Eastern Sierra’s premier birding locations. 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. American Dipper, Townsend’s Solitaire, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and nuthatches are among the many species that we may see. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

237: Tarns and Kettles (field trip)
Karen Amstutz
Spend the morning at the top of the Sierra. At nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, we will find ourselves immersed in the beauty of the alpine edge and the very edge of Yosemite National Park. Among glacial tarns and kettles, lodgepole and whitebark pines, peaks and meadows we will meander in search of nesting Mountain Bluebird, Spotted Sandpiper, Cassin’s Finch, and maybe some unexpected species. Every season here is unique. Tioga Pass is a thoroughfare for birds and we could easily be surprised by a rare sighting as we explore and seek birds and other wildlife in this rich variety of habitats. Bring a hat, sunscreen, warm layers, water, and snacks. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 8:00am–12:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

239: Field Journaling among the Wildflowers (field trip)
Sue Jorgenson
Get up close and personal with the Mono Basin wildflowers! Starting with County Park, Sue will lead you to and through several wildflower locations (TBD). You'll learn about wildflower habitats and bioregions, and, using field journaling methods and a magnifying glass, you'll be drawn into following your curiosity, gaining new perspectives and deepening your connections to Nature. The wildflower season is very short in the Mono Basin, but spectacularly intense. Field journaling techniques include using watercolors, pen or pencil, camera, even written or recorded words - the keyword is portability. Please include a journal of some kind, a magnifying glass or hand lens, a hat, sunscreen, and water among your supplies. Beginners welcome! (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 8:30am–1:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

241: Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep afield (field trip)
John Wehausen
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are a separate subspecies of bighorn sheep that have state and federal endangered species status. They were restored to the Mono Basin in 1986. In mid-June these sheep often use Lundy Canyon and it may be possible to spot them from the trail. John Wehausen will lead the group there and discuss the history and challenges of restoration efforts for these sheep. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: strenuous)
Saturday 8:30am–1:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

243: Bodie: Ghost Town Full of Life (field trip)
Hillary Colyer
Bodie is a world-famous ghost town and a popular California State Park. Though no longer a functional town, the place is alive with history, mystery, and a surprising amount of biodiversity for a high desert wild west town. Join State Park Interpreter Hillary Colyer for a unique tour of the town that explores its fascinating history, its mysterious remnant buildings and artifacts, and, of course, its varied bird habitats. The tour will include an exploration of one of the most intact stamp mills in North America, as well as time for independent exploration of the town. The park is at around 8400' elevation, so be prepared with drinking water, sun protection, and layered clothing. (est. driving miles: 62; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 1:00pm6:00pm       

Lee Vining Community Center

 

245: Touring policy hot spots (field trip)
Geoff McQuilkin
Join Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin for a tour of the Mono Basin with discussions focusing on hot policy and management topics as well as current water conditions and what they mean for Mono Lake and the tributary streams. Stops will include Mono Lake’s tributary streams to discuss restoration streamflows, Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure, and 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. (est. driving miles: 40; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 1:30pm–4:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

247: Developing bird ID skills through observing (outdoor workshop)
Susan Steele
This workshop focuses on how to be a better observer, which will in turn help quicken your identification skills and enrich your birding experience. The workshop will start with exercises to work on specific observation skills and tricks. The group will then put the new skills to the test on real birds at feeders. This workshop is for those who are keen on becoming better birders at all levels. Please bring something to write or draw on, and you may want to bring a camp chair or stool, otherwise we will be sitting on the ground at times. (driving miles: 0; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 1:30pm–4:30pm        

Lee Vining Community Center

 

249: Birding the Inyo Craters (field trip)
Ryan Garrett
This trip will take a leisurely stroll through an old-growth Jeffrey pine forest looking for conifer specialists including nuthatches, woodpeckers, finches, and more. 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. We may see White-headed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Red Crossbill, and Cassin’s Finch but a variety of species is expected. (est. driving miles: 50; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 2:00pm–6:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

251: Birding Lower Parker Canyon (field trip)
Santiago M. Escruceria
On this leisurely bird walk on level terrain through lower Parker Canyon we will explore riparian and meadow habitats in this quiet region of the Mono Basin. 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. (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 2:00pm–5:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

253: Fields’ guide to Osprey (field trip)
Lisa Fields
We will drive to South Tufa where we will walk to Mono Lake to view active Osprey nests, discuss why a fish-eating bird is living at a fishless lake, and talk about Osprey natural history. South Tufa is the best area to view active nests and if we are lucky the chicks will be large enough to offer us a glimpse. Updates to the current research will also be discussed, which includes some dispersal, migration, and local foraging data thanks in part to Chautauqua grants for banding and telemetry study. We may adjust our route (and possibly our location) based upon current Osprey activity. We will be in exposed areas without shade so please bring a hat, water, and sunscreen. (est. driving miles: 22; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 2:00pm–5:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

255: *A bird’s-eye view of bugs (family field trip)
Michael Ross
As birds know, the world is full of tasty bugs and a few yucky ones. With “bird eyes” we’ll search in Lee Vining Canyon for bugs on the ground, leaves, bark, soil, and in the air, and maybe even take a taste test. Open to kids of all ages and parents. No charge and open to all. (est. driving miles: 5)
Saturday 2:00pm–4:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center


257: Capturing trees in charcoal (outdoor workshop)
Ane Carla Rovetta
Come sketch the trees around you using charcoal that Ane Carla makes from their twigs! You will capture the feeling of the forest with quick strokes and keen observation, using tricks that illustrators use. Participants will render several small works using the materials provided by the instructor. All skill levels welcome. (Short walk from the Lee Vining Community Center)
Saturday 3:30pm–5:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


259: Twilight birding (field trip)
Ted Beedy & Keith Hansen
Late June brings some of the longest and most active birding days of the year in the Mono Basin. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots in the Mono Basin for early evening activity that may include shorebirds, waterfowl, nighthawks, poorwills, and winnowing snipe. We will also search for owls once night falls. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather after the sun sets. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

261: Twilight birding 2 (field trip)
Colin Dillingham
This program will take a similar path in a different direction to its sister field trip. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots in the Mono Basin for early evening activity that may include shorebirds, waterfowl, nighthawks, poorwills, and winnowing snipe. We will use our ears as well as our eyes in this nearby bird outing. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather, headlamps, and mosquito repellent to fend off the survivors of the swallow and bat brigade. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center

 

263: Twilight Birding 3 (field trip)
Stephen Shunk
Late June brings some of the longest and most active birding days of the year in the Mono Basin. Get ready for an early evening adventure of birding into the dusk. We will ply some active birding spots in the Mono Basin for early evening activity that may include nighthawks, poorwills, and owls. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather after the sun sets. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 7:00pm–9:30pm

Lee Vining Community Center


265: Bats in Lee Vining Canyon (field trip)
Burleigh Lockwood and Lisa Murphy
Join this field trip for an evening bat walk in Lee Vining Canyon. While waiting for darkness to fall, Burleigh and Lisa will beguile us with a captivating introduction into the biologic and behavioral world of bats. We will then head out to Lee Vining Canyon to “see” the bats using Sonobat Live acoustical monitoring equipment. This will allow us to identify each bat by species through an almost instantaneous analysis of their ultrasonic echolocation calls as they fly over. (est. driving miles: 10; hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:30pm–10:00pm

Lee Vining Community Center





Sunday June 19, 2022


301: Bird sounds (field trip)
Roy Poucher
This field study is the “hands-on” companion to the virtual presentation “Bird Sounds” on June 11. The goal is to solidify the general techniques explored during the virtual presentation and provide practical experience with field identification of specific Mono Basin bird sounds. We will primarily be standing at different locations for short time segments, silently noting on paper what bird sounds we are individually hearing, and next, as a group, discussing, analyzing, and identifying these sounds. Though useful, binoculars are not necessary. Please bring a small notebook. We recommend that you attend the virtual presentation on June 11 or view the recording prior to this field trip. Total walking distance will be about 2 miles with some moderately strenuous terrain at an elevation of up to 9,000 ft. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

303: Birding the Bridgeport Valley (field trip)
Ted Beedy & Al DeMartini
Join Ted for an exploration of wetlands and lake habitats of Bridgeport Reservoir. Bridgeport Reservoir sits within beautiful Bridgeport Valley between the Sierra Nevada and the Sweetwater range. Waterfowl, grebes in courtship, terns, pelicans, and shorebirds grace the surface and shores of this popular fishing reservoir that also attracts a diversity of raptors such as Bald Eagle and Osprey. A pair of Sandhill Cranes has been nesting at Bridgeport Reservoir and there is a chance of seeing or hearing these rare Mono County birds. Participants typically see more than 60 species of birds on this field trip. (est. driving miles: 65; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

305: Finches, woodpeckers, & birding the pine woodlands (field trip)
Susan Steele
On this trip we will explore Jeffrey and lodgepole pine forests south of Lee Vining looking for woodpeckers and finches. We will focus on looking for nesting woodpeckers including Williamson’s Sapsucker and Lewis’s, Hairy, White-headed, and Black-backed woodpeckers, Cassin’s Finch, and Red Crossbill. If this happens to be a year when the irruptive Evening Grosbeak are gracing the area, we will walk a couple miles listening for them, and if we are lucky, watch these amazing “grosbeaked” birds. Resident species we have a good chance of observing include Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, Steller’s Jay, and Mountain Bluebird. (est. driving miles: 60; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

307: Birding Antelope Valley & Topaz Lake (field trip)
Colin Dillingham
We will caravan to the southern tip of Antelope Valley and investigate cottonwood riparian, agriculture, and sage-juniper-pinyon pine woodlands. Pinyon Jay and Willow Flycatcher are likely, as well as raptors, sparrows, and neotropical migrants. We will search for elusive Juniper Titmouse. After a couple of hours in the valley, we’ll travel north to the southern part of Topaz Lake where we will use spotting scopes to scan the lake. We will end our trip at Topaz Lake. (est. driving miles: 130; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

309: Yosemite high country birding
Michael Ross
Just over the "hill" from Mono Lake is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra and a rich array of breeding birds and visitors from lower elevations to east and west. Join Michael Ross, who has been birding in the Tuolumne Meadows area since 1977, to seek species typical of this rich habitat and learn about their behavior and unique connections to the land. (est. driving miles: 60; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–12:00noon

Lee Vining Community Center


311: Snag forest bird walk (field trip)
Maya Khosla
On this trip we’ll explore recently burned forests through both a scientific and an artistic lens. We’ll discuss exciting, new scientific findings based on recent searches for nests and Maya will share some of her new poetry along the way. We will look for snag-dependent birds like White-headed, Hairy, Lewis’s, Black-backed woodpeckers, Williamson’s Sapsucker and secondary cavity nesters like Mountain Bluebird and Tree Swallow. We’ll discuss the many ways that mixed-intensity fire supports biodiversity and ecological health in our conifer forests, and a habitat created by high-intensity fire called “complex early seral forest,” which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and yet the most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. (est. total driving miles: 55; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–12:00noon

Lee Vining Community Center


313: Behavior, physiology, & natural history of High Sierra birds (field trip)
Tom Hahn
This trip will make a couple of stops in Lee Vining Canyon on the way up into the Tioga Pass vicinity and will provide a great opportunity to observe many of the birds of the eastern slope and Sierra crest. We’ll use the species we find as jumping-off points to talk about the various research on physiology and behavior of high-elevation birds that has been done over the past 40 years around Tioga Pass, with particular emphasis on how the steep eastern escarpment provides opportunities for small birds to escape life-threatening weather, and how residents and migrants orchestrate their annual schedules of breeding, plumage molt, and migration in this capricious environment. We’ll make a particular effort to find, observe, and discuss the natural history of Mountain White-crowned Sparrow, Dusky Flycatcher, Hermit Thrush, Cassin’s Finch, and Rock Wren, and we’ll keep our eyes and ears peeled for Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, Pine Siskin, and Red Crossbill—all of which have been studied in the area (some since 1968). (est. driving miles: 20; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

315: Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip)
Rodd Kelsey
Spend a morning enjoying birds and other forms of wildlife in one of the Mono Basin’s most spectacular locations—Lundy Canyon. The mixture of aspen-cottonwood-willow riparian habitat with mature conifers provides prime habitat for a variety of Eastern Sierra birds. The awesome scenery, including displays of wildflowers, picturesque historical sites, beaver lodges, butterflies, and breathtaking rocky peaks will provide additional flavor to the outing. During one to two miles of walking we will make a special effort to locate nesting birds, as well as to locate birds by song. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am

Hess Park

 

317: Birds of the Sierra Nevada (field trip)
Keith Hansen & Ryan Garrett
What better way is there to spend a morning birding in the Sierra than with the person who wrote the field guide? Join Keith Hansen, bird artist extraordinaire, author of the new “Hansen’s Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada”, and local birder Ryan Garrett, to immerse yourself in the birds of Lee Vining canyon and the lyrical prose of Keith’s species descriptions of the birds you see. Expect to see and learn about montane birds from Mountain Chickadees to Clark’s Nutcrackers and many in between. (est. driving miles: 16; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

319: Cavity nesters of Lee Vining Canyon (field trip)
Stephen Shunk
The aspen groves and coniferous uplands in Lee Vining Canyon support an abundance of cavity-nesting birds. In some stands, it seems that every available cavity is occupied by a chickadee, nuthatch, swallow, or wren, not to mention the carpenters who create the cavities: the amazing woodpeckers. On this field trip, we will explore the riparian richness along Lee Vining Creek. We will make a few key stops in the canyon, wandering through aspen galleries and pine stands as Steve interprets the natural history of these local avian habitats. In addition to studying the cavity nesters, we will also enjoy a host of other nesting songbirds, including MacGillivray’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, and many more. Expect leisurely walks along well-used roads and trails. (est. driving miles: 35; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

321: Birding Rush Creek Delta (field trip) 
Bob Steele
We will take a leisurely one-mile hike through open sagebrush to the mouth of Rush Creek where we will enjoy a unique perspective of the Mono Basin. Along the way we will pause to study birds typical of the Great Basin Desert habitat, including Brewer’s Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, and possibly Sagebrush Sparrow. Once at the delta we will experience an awesome setting while watching birds come in to bathe in the fresh water of the largest tributary stream that feeds Mono Lake. (est. driving miles: 10; hiking difficulty: moderate, little shade)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

323: Mono dunes critter caper (field trip) 
John Harris
Spend the morning checking live-traps and track plots to discover Mono's desert mammal fauna. We will be trapping in the dunes on the northeast side of the lake, an environment that also supports Utah juniper woodlands. We should see some of the small mammals that characterize the Great Basin, including the dark kangaroo mouse and Least chipmunk. During this ever-popular trip, we'll also keep our eyes and ears open for some of the Eastside bird specialties of the area including Sagebrush Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Juniper Titmouse, and Gray Flycatcher. Open to all ages. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

325: Birding Burger’s Retreat (field trip)
Dave Shuford
We’ll drive up and over a steep moraine out of Lee Vining Canyon, with spectacular views of Mount Dana and beyond, on our way to a privately-owned secluded nature reserve only a short distance from the masses of visitors passing through Yosemite. 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, and many others may make an appearance. (est. driving miles: 6; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–10:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

327: Big Sit (field trip)
Mary Clapp
Head out early with your binoculars and a camp chair and let the birds come to you! Your leader will pick a spot with a variety of habitats and views and the group will spend this leisurely trip sitting in one spot and identifying all the birds that come through. You may learn which individuals have built a nest nearby, or who is fighting for territory, while you pay careful attention to the birds within your field of view. Bring snacks, water, and a portable chair or stool. (est. driving miles: 15, hiking difficulty: very easy)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am

Hess Park

 

329: Green Creek songbirds in bear heaven (field trip)
Claire Marvet, Kelly Muller & Kay Ogden
This is your opportunity to see songbirds, aquatic macroinvertebrates, and maybe even bear tracks on a private ranch in the Bridgeport Valley. Green Creek is a tributary to the East Walker River, and its headwaters are the crest of the Sierra and the boundary of Yosemite National Park. This steep, bounding stream runs through Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, including this private cattle ranch where the owners have placed a conservation easement, protecting it in perpetuity. You’ll walk beside Green Creek through a light-dappled riparian forest, cross the creek (please bring shoes you don’t mind wading through knee-high water in—there is no bridge), and enter an aspen grove and buffalo berry shrubland on the edge of the valley’s expansive wet meadows. You’ll also learn about the rich cultural history of Green Creek and the private land conservation history of Bridgeport Valley. (est. driving miles: 46; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center


331: Walk quietly & carry a big lens on Sunday too (field trip)
Santiago M. Escruceria
Join this trip for an easily accessible and gentle stroll next to a beautiful riparian corridor to photograph birds. 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 morning light. (est. driving miles: 22; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am

Hess Park

 

333: Exploring Rattlesnake Gulch (field trip)
David Wimpfheimer
This unique area, the oldest known gold mining site in the Eastern Sierra, is a quiet, dramatic place unlike any other location in the Mono Basin. A riparian habitat of willow and aspen holds typical breeding species such as Calliope Hummingbird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Green-tailed Towhee. Adjacent sagebrush and bitterbrush habitat offers a different group of birds. Rocky expanses and unlimited vistas provide good raptor watching. This is a fun and scenic area with lots of great boulders and old cabins that will interest not only birders, but photographers as well. (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

335: Field Journaling among the Wildflowers (field trip)
Sue Jorgenson
Get up close and personal with the Mono Basin wildflowers! Starting with County Park, Sue will lead you to and through several wildflower locations (TBD). You'll learn about wildflower habitats and bioregions, and, using field journaling methods and a magnifying glass, you'll be drawn into following your curiosity, gaining new perspectives and deepening your connections to Nature. The wildflower season is very short in the Mono Basin, but spectacularly intense. Field journaling techniques include using watercolors, pen or pencil, camera, even written or recorded words - the keyword is portability. Please include a journal of some kind, a magnifying glass or hand lens, a hat, sunscreen, and water among your supplies. Beginners welcome! (est. driving miles: 25; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)

Sunday 8:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center

 

337: Fields’ guide to Osprey (field trip)
Lisa Fields
We will drive to South Tufa where we will walk down to the lake to view active Osprey nests, discuss why a fish-eating bird is living on a fishless lake, and answer questions about Osprey natural history. South Tufa is the best area to view active nests and if we are lucky the chicks will be large enough to offer us a glimpse. Updates to the current research will also be discussed, which includes some dispersal, migration, and local foraging data thanks in part to Chautauqua grants for the banding and telemetry study. We may adjust our route (and possibly our location) based on current Osprey activity. We will be in sunny areas without shade so please bring a hat, water, and sunscreen. Open to kids of all ages. (driving miles: 22; hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 8:30am–11:30am

Lee Vining Community Center





Other things to do during Chautauqua week


Strange waters: South Tufa walk
Discover the unique waters and wildlife of Mono Lake at South Tufa off Highway 120 east. It is an easy, 1-mile, 1.5-hour walk with a naturalist among the spectacular tufa towers on the lakeshore. Bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and binoculars. Entrance fee is $3.00 per person for a one-week pass. Visitors ages 15 and under are admitted free. Open to kids of all ages.
Saturday 1:00pm–2:30pm. No registration required.
Sunday 1:00pm–2:30pm. No registration required.

Meet at the South Tufa site. From Lee Vining, drive approximately 5 miles south on Hwy 395. Turn left on Hwy 120 East and travel another 5 miles to the South Tufa/Navy Beach turn-off. Turn left following the signs to the left toward the South Tufa parking lot.

 

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore
The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore offers a free film, educational exhibits, and an art exhibit. You'll also find an excellent selection of regional books, maps, T-shirts, posters, local crafts, and specialty gifts. The Committee also houses the Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce with information on lodging, dining, and recreation opportunities as well as weather and road conditions.
The Mono Lake Committee will be open from 9:00am–8:00pm daily during the Chautauqua, call (760) 647-6595 for more information.

Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center
The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center features an excellent view of Mono Lake, interpretive displays, natural history trails, and the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association bookstore. Make sure to check it all out during the Chautauqua! The dramatic Mono Lake film Of Ice and Fire will be shown in the theater when possible. Call (760) 647-3044 for more information. A great place for kids of all ages.
The Visitor Center will be open 8:00am–9:00pm on Friday and Saturday with the exhibit hall closing at 6:00pm during the Chautauqua.
Regular Visitor Center hours are 8:00am–5:00pm daily; call (760) 647-3044 for more information.

Mono Basin Historical Society Museum
The Mono Basin Historical Society Museum, located in Lee Vining at Gus Hess Park, houses a fascinating collection of materials and photographs from the Mono Basin's past. See Native American artifacts, gold mining implements, and even the legendary upside-down house! A great place for kids of all ages. Call (760) 647-6461 for more information.