Author: Carrie Nibblet
CA: Mono Co: DeChambeau Creek: Mono Lake
Today we began our day hiking in small groups by DeChambeau Creek and old Highway 395. We got hand-lens-deep into the Mono Basin plants, many of which reminded us of desert plants from the Mojave. After we passed the cottonwoods in Thompson Meadow, we encountered MELT YOUR FACE OFF BIRDING! We watched three American Kestrels, one of which had a lizard in its mouth. After we carried on, we saw a parliament of two juvenile and one adult Great Horned Owls. We watched the owls through our binos and spotting scopes as they napped and watched us with their adorable but angry looking faces. One student claimed she was having a “birdgasm”! We carried on to Mono Lake County Park where we ate lunch on the field. Ryan and Chris talked to us about bird songs and language. During lunch we also saw a group of mule deer. Later we walked down the boardwalk and watched many birds, including an osprey, Canada geese, CA gulls, Gadwall ducks, and Violet-Green Swallows on the edge of the lake flying and perching around the tufa. We were given a short presentation by Ryan’s mom, Janet, abut how the Tufa towers are formed by the salinity of the lake and sodium bicarbonate springs to form limestone formations. We then hopped into the vans and drove to the Mono Lake Tufa reserve old drop off where we went swimming. We enjoyed floating in the algae induced, mountain dew colored water and looking at the brine shrimp. After swimming and trying our best not to get the salty water in our noses and eyes, Liz gave a presentation on the ecosystems of Mono Lake. We drove up the road to the Lee Vining Creek where we washed the salt off our skin in the fresh and refreshing creek. We then got back in the vans and drove back to our home camp where we enjoyed some down time before our delicious dinner. After dinner, Stacy, Jeanette, Pachamama, and Sarah told the epic story of the water management of Mono Lake. Overall it was a great day filled with fantastic birding and many other sights!