Program 2017

Programs highlighted in blue do not count towards your Chautauqua program total and are open to the public.


If an event you want to register for is FULL, please call us to be put on a waitlist (760) 647-6595.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pre-Chautauqua Events

Lee Vining Canyon trail work & clean-up party (volunteer project) 
Friends of the Inyo

Get out and give back to the land! What better way to kick off the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua than to help care for this place we all enjoy? This year's project, designed by the one and only Paul McFarland, will focus on the Lee Vining Creek area. Work will consist of painting tables and kiosks, picking up trash, and possibly a couple of bird related restoration projects. Gloves, trash bags, and tools will be provided, but be sure to bring sunscreen, wear close-toed shoes, and be prepared for the elements. Parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged. No charge, open to all, camaraderie gratis. 
Thursday 9:00am–11:30am
Meet at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore
 


The high Sierra responds to a changing climate (presentation)

Martha Davis, David Herbst, Caelen McQuilkin, Geoff McQuilkin, Connie Millar & Dr. Steve Sadro
The Mono Basin’s climate action group, 350 Mono, will present an afternoon of education about high-elevation climate issues in the Eastern Sierra. Bird enthusiasts are invited to arrive a day early and attend a series of afternoon talks from experts in climate issues. We hope attendees will be inspired to take action in their own lives and communities to encourage climate progress. See full schedule hereNo charge and open to all.
Thursday 1:00pm–5:00pm
Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center auditorium
 


Birding between the breweries (field trip; $80 additional program cost)
 
Nora Livingston & additional guide

Mono County is notable for spectacular scenery, great birding, and a growing collection of high-elevation breweries. Combine your love for birds and brews on this relaxed afternoon trip, which will introduce you to some great birding at a few local hotspots as well as great beer at some hotspots of another kind. Bring your binoculars, proof of age, and a thirst for birds (beginners and experts welcome). We will provide a 14-passenger van and a sober birding guide. One beverage per person per brewery is included in the program cost; participants may purchase additional beverages and food. Please drink responsibly.
Thursday 1:00pm–6:00pm
Meet at the Mobil Gas Station
 

Welcome reception, wine, and a short poetry reading
Tom Crawford
Stop by the Mono Lake Committee and be inspired by poet Tom Crawford who will quickly get you in the proper Chautauqua mood. Wine will help. Poems will seal the deal. Books will be available for purchase and signing so they can travel with you throughout the Chautauqua weekend, and beyond. No charge and open to all.
Thursday 7:30pm–8:30pm
Mono Lake Committee Theater & Gallery
 


Friday, June 16, 2017


First blush of the morning at Bodie State Historic Park
Terri Geissinger
Imagine walking through a true ghost town, not another soul in sight, with only the dawn chorus to remind you that this historic site is teeming with life. Join Terri Geissinger, Bodie Foundation historian and birder, for an exclusive and serene look at Bodie before the park opens to the public. The trip will meet at sunrise in Lee Vining and caravan to Bodie to capture the essence of this unique site and the feathered friends that call it home. Enjoy the cool of the morning as Brewer’s Sparrows and Sage Thrashers sing from the sagebrush and the busy swallows dip and zip, building mud huts under the eaves of buildings that date to the 1870s. The trip blends the past with the present and promises memories to last a lifetime. The weather at this 8,400-foot elevation can be unpredictable so wear sunscreen and dress in layers. (est. driving miles: 62, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 5:30am–10:30am
Lee Vining Community Center


Birding meadows, moraines, & mountains (field trip) FULL
Stephen A. Shunk
Join Oregon naturalist Steve Shunk as he explores the diverse habitats of Sawmill Canyon and Upper Walker Creek, just south of Lee Vining. See wrens, warblers, woodpeckers, and much more, with a chance to see or hear Mountain Quail. We will begin by driving up Sawmill Canyon to the Bloody Canyon trailhead campground. We will then hike up, over, and back down the southern lateral moraine above Walker Lake, exploring the lush wetlands at the head of the lake. The trip will involve 4 miles of hiking on good trails with mixed grades, up to nearly 8,200 feet in elevation. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: strenuous
Friday 6:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding the Bridgeport Valley (field trip)
Peter Metropulos
Bridgeport Reservoir sits within beautiful Bridgeport Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater ranges. Waterfowl, grebes, terns, pelicans, and shorebirds grace the surface and shores of this popular fishing reservoir. Join Peter Metropulos for an exploration of the wetlands and lake habitat of Bridgeport Reservoir. 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 182. In 2008 a pair of Sandhill Cranes nested at Bridgeport Reservoir—a new record for Mono County documented by Peter! (est. driving miles: 70, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Birding DeChambeau Ponds & Ranch
Oliver James
Fresh water sources are few and far between in the Mono Basin. Every small pond, spring, or even roadside puddle can act as a localized oasis in the vast sea of sagebrush. Join Oliver on this half-day trip to scour some of these productive hot spots along Mono Lake’s north shore, namely DeChambeau Ranch, DeChambeau Ponds, and time allowing, the County Ponds and on down to the Mono Lake shoals. 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
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Snag forest bird walk (field trip)
Maya Khosla
We will explore two recently burned forests, looking for snag-dependent birds like White-headed, Hairy, Lewis’, and Black-backed Woodpeckers and secondary cavity nesters like Mountain Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. We’ll discuss the many ways that mixed-intensity fire supports biodiversity and ecological health in conifer forests, and we'll see a habitat created by high-intensity fire called “complex early seral forest,” which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. Many declining wildlife species depend upon this habitat, yet there are no meaningful protections for it. (est. total driving miles: 45, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 6:30 am–11:30 am
Lee Vining Community Center



Jewel of Mono: Rush Creek Delta (field trip) FULL
Justin Hite
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. Once at the delta we will experience an awesome setting, watch birds coming in to bathe in the fresh water, and discuss the history of Rush Creek and its importance to the health of the ecosystem of the Mono Lake. (est. driving miles: 15, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Mono’s forgotten tributary: Water, wildlife, and history of Dry creek FULL
Paul McFarland
East of Mono Lake's well-traveled tributaries of Lee Vining, Rush, Walker, Parker, Mill and Wilson a mysterious creek flows (sometimes) north from the world's largest Jeffrey Pine forest down (literally) into bitterbrush and alkali flats. 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. With a couple of short strolls (less than 1 mile each) on and off forest dirt roads, we'll take a holistic journey through the natural and cultural history of old-growth Jeffries, 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. (hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center


Birding McGee Canyon (field trip) FULL
Tom Hahn & 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 Sparrows and Green-tailed Towhees are common. After a short climb, the trail passes several clumps of water birch and aspen with side streams where birds and butterflies gather. The trail heads gradually up into junipers and limber pines with Clark’s Nutcrackers and Townsend’s Solitaires. Dippers are frequently seen on the creek. After a tricky creek crossing, the trail winds through hemlocks and lodgepoles to a shallow beaver pond. The hike is moderate with some stream crossings and a great variety of birds and plants. If we encounter too much snow higher up we’ll find alternative habitats to explore lower down. Bring a lunch. (est. driving miles: 80, hiking difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
Friday 7:00am–2:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Mountains & birds: Birding the Virginia Lakes basin (field trip) FULL
Kristie Nelson
This half-day trip will explore habitats and avifauna of the local montane region. 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, an elevation of near 10,000 feet (drivable). We hope to see a diverse assemblage of birds, and the scenery should be memorable. Species we may encounter include Western Tanager, Mountain Chickadee, Fox Sparrow (Sierra Nevada sub-species), and more. If luck is with us, we may see more elusive species like Western Flycatcher, Red Crossbill, or Gray-crowned Rosy-finch. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 7:00am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Breeding bird survey: Owens River Road (field trip)
Bob Power
Please join Bob for a sweet walk along the Forest Service dirt roads that criss-cross the Owens River Road burn area. We'll combine traditional field trip experiences of sight and sound identification of the Eastside’s yummiest birds with a practical discussion of breeding behaviors, breeding codes, and adding value to your eBird checklists. (est. driving miles: 42, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:00am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Crafty Corvids east of the crest (field trip) FULL
Nora Livingston
Jays, magpies, nutcrackers, and ravens are the Eastside's intellectual avian trouble-makers 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 local Corvids as possible, with a focus on finding Pinyon Jays and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays in the Rancheria Gulch area. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:00am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip) FULL
Scott Dietrich
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. Among the birds to be expected are sapsuckers, woodpeckers, pewees, vireos, jays, nuthatches, creepers, wrens, chickadees, grosbeaks, swallows, warblers, Western Tanagers, juncos, towhees, sparrows, and finches. We will be walking mostly on dirt roads/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



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 outcroppings of rocks. 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
Lee Vining Community Center



Learning the language of birds (field trip)
Peter Bergen
"Interspecies communication," also known as "bird language," is an ancestral skill that people have used to help them survive and thrive for thousands of years. Only recently entering the scientific dialogue, bird language is made up of a collection of skills and principles that are being revived by modern peoples. When routinely practicing the routines of bird language, learners experience direct feedback on their own engagement with awareness and sensitivity to other species. Through this feedback loop, people learn to walk with less impact and more conscious awareness. During this experiential workshop, seasoned bird language and nature connection mentor Peter Bergen will immerse participants in a group-learning model that can be brought to any education center where nature experience is celebrated. As Joe Ellis, NAS board member, remarked after his initial bird language experience, “Birds talk to each other, we can understand it, and it’s fun.” Come join the fun! (est. driving miles: 8, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding the Lakes Canyon trail (field trip)
Pete Devine
This hike begins in the sagebrush at the Lundy Lake dam at about 7,800 feet in elevation and will take us steadily uphill above the south shore of the lake through willows, aspen, and conifer groves. 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 sparrows, Brewer’s Sparrows, Cassin’s Finches, woodpeckers, Warbling Vireos, and others. We will not trek all the way to the lakes but will stop at an elevation of about 8,800 feet near the wilderness boundary. This is up to 3 miles of hiking round trip with spectacular views of lakes, streams, and high peaks. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
Friday 7:30am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding Lee Vining Canyon (field trip) FULL
Will Richardson & Sarah Hockensmith
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 out 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 on this trip. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center


Walk quietly & carry a big lens (field trip)

Santiago Escruceria 
Join Santiago for an easily accessible and gentle stroll next to a beautiful riparian corridor to photograph birds. With our own cameras we will shoot for orioles, finches, wrens, swallows, Osprey, and eagles. We will investigate basic technique and take advantage of the morning light. (est. driving miles: 22, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center


Learning to listen: Birding by ear for beginners (field trip)
Karyn “Kestrel” O’Hearn
This is a field trip 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: 25, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding the wildflowers (field trip) FULL
Ann Howald
The location for this wildflower walk will be selected just before the Chautauqua begins to take advantage of the best place for flowers. 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 2 miles with a modest elevation gain. Bring lunch and plenty of water. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 8:00am–12:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Conway Ranch: Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse in the Mono Basin (field trip and hands-on stewardship)
Kay Ogden & Susanna Danner
Have you admired the verdant meadows and riparian habitat on Conway Ranch from Conway Summit? Now is your chance to help improve the ranch for rare birds. Owned by Mono County, this historic ranch northwest of Mono Lake once produced food for the town of Bodie. Today, it still produces food—for songbirds, mule deer, and the Bi-State Greater Sage-Grouse. Wet meadows and low sagebrush scrub provide critical broodrearing habitat for grouse chicks. To protect this rare bird, join the Eastern Sierra Land Trust to install fence markers and perch deterrents to reduce fence-strike mortality and predation. Land Trust Executive Director Kay Ogden and Land Conservation Program Director Susanna Danner, will share the story of Conway Ranch and its importance for Greater Sage-Grouse as they team up with local agency biologists for a morning on the ranch. Wear work clothes and closed-toe shoes.
Friday 8:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center


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 really 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 many others. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Friday 8:30am–1:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep afield (field trip) FULL
John Wehausen
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are a separate subspecies of bighorn sheep that have state and federal endangered status. They were introduced to the Mono Basin in 1986. In mid-June ewes with new lambs can usually be spotted from the trail in Lundy Canyon. John will lead a group there and discuss the history and challenges of restoration efforts for these sheep. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: quite strenuous)
Friday 8:30am–1:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Creating a sense of place through sketching (outdoor workshop)
Logan Parsons
Have you ever wanted to capture the spirit of a place in just one sketch? Drawings are wonderful vehicles for revisiting places we love, as well as a practical way to document your everyday life and travels. Join scientific illustrator and art teacher Logan Parsons to learn various methods of capturing place through sketching. Logan will help inspire you with myriad examples of how different artists have interpreted place through art, as well as teaching practical sketching techniques for landscape drawing, trompe l’oeil, collage, and page layout. With step-by-step demonstrations, Logan will add to your sketching “tool box,” whether you have been sketching for years or are a complete novice. (est. driving miles: 20)
Materials to bring include:
   Notebook or sketch pad (9x9" or smaller is recommended, with multimedia paper)
   Pencil (regular #2 or mechanical)
   Pencil sharpener (if needed)
   Watercolor pan set (Winsor and Newton Cotman sets are recommended)
   Pentel Aquash water brush (medium)
   Eraser
   Pigma micron pen (.05 or .03)
   Any water-soluble black pen
Friday 9:00am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center


Birds of the red fir-lodgepole pine forest (field trip) FULL
David Wimpfheimer
The expansive forest of red fir, lodgepole, and Jeffrey pine surrounding Deadman Creek and Summit is the destination for this field trip. 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 can be found here among the more expected Hairy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker. Depending on the seed crop, Red Crossbills can be moderately common in the pines. Cassin’s Finch and Pine Siskin are the common breeding finches here, but we’ll also be searching for Evening and Pine Grosbeaks. The diversity in the area is augmented by aspen groves and streamside willow stands where Green-tailed Towhee, Fox Sparrow, and Orange-crowned and MacGillivray’s Warblers breed. The field trip will consist of several short walks in which we focus on identification and behavior of a wide variety of birds. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–5:00pm  
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding Lower Parker Canyon (field trip) FULL
Santiago Escruceria
Join Santiago 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



Touring policy hot spots FULL
Geoff McQuilkin
Join Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin for a tour of the Mono Basin with discussions focusing on the current epic wet year in the Mono Basin and what that means for Mono Lake and the tributary streams. Stops will include Mono Lake’s tributary streams during high flow conditions, Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure, and an overlook toward the California Gull protection fence on the landbridge to Negit Island. Geoff will describe the Committee’s role in forecasting and documenting the changes we’re seeing and will explain the work ahead to continue to safeguard Mono Lake. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 1:00pm–4:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding for beginners (field trip)
Ryan DiGaudio
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? 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 towards ages 10 and up. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–4:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Lundy Canyon: A rich history FULL
Linda LaPierre
Join Linda on a historic walk of the mining town of Lundy, located at the head of beautiful Lundy Lake, which will include many old photos (a sort of primitive Power Point). Then the group will take a walk up Lundy Canyon with frequent stops to discuss mining history and some of the natural features (with more photos) of this special place. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–4:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Meet the chipmunks (field trip) FULL
John Harris
Learn about the Mono Basin’s diverse and engaging chipmunks. 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 one or more locations in 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. Open to kids of all ages. (est. driving miles: 13, hiking difficulty: easy)
Friday 1:00pm–4:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center


Fly casting clinic (outdoor workshop)
Trout Unlimited
Have you always wanted to learn how to cast a fly fishing rod? Or improve your current casting stroke? Members of the Eastern Sierra Chapter of Trout Unlimited will provide a free fly casting demonstration clinic that will help you improve regardless of your current level of experience. This clinic is open to all ages from beginners to advanced casters. Rods and reels will be provided or you can bring your own equipment. No charge and open to all. (Zero driving, zero hiking)
Friday 1:00pm–3:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Lakeshore family adventure (family field trip)
Michael Ross
Cool off in the afternoon heat as you investigate and compare the waters of Mono Lake and Lee Vining Creek. Observe brine shrimp, alkali flies, and birdlife along the lakeshore. Discover aquatic insects and songbirds along the creek. Bring towels and appropriate clothes and footwear for wading or even swimming. Open to kids of all ages and parents. No charge and open to all.
Friday 1:30pm–3:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Creating a sense of place through sketching (outdoor workshop)
Logan Parsons
Have you ever wanted to capture the spirit of a place in just one sketch? Drawings are wonderful vehicles for revisiting places we love, as well as a practical way to document your everyday life and travels. Join science illustrator and art teacher Logan Parsons to learn various methods of capturing place through sketching. Logan will help inspire you with myriad examples of how different artists have interpreted place through art, as well as teaching practical sketching techniques for landscape drawing, trompe l’oeil, collage, and page layout. With step-by-step demonstrations, Logan will add to your sketching “tool box,” whether you have been sketching for years or are a complete novice. (est. driving miles: 20)
Materials to bring include:
   Notebook or sketch pad (9x9" or smaller is recommended, with multimedia paper)
   Pencil (regular #2 or mechanical)
   Pencil sharpener (if needed)
   Watercolor pan set (Winsor and Newton Cotman sets are recommended)
   Pentel Aquash water brush (medium)
   Eraser
   Pigma micron pen (.05 or .03)
   Any water-soluble black pen
Friday 1:30pm–4:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Bird sounds part 1 (indoor workshop)
Roy Poucher
Bird songs are nature’s music and 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 360 degrees. The focus of this workshop is to increase our birding enjoyment via improving our skills as auditory birders. Some prior experience trying to identify birds by ear will surely be useful, but motivation to learn trumps experience with this; folks of all experience levels are welcome. We will explore the principles of describing bird vocalizations in general as well as become familiar with specific vocalizations of common birds in the Mono Basin area. This workshop is a prerequisite for the Saturday and Sunday Bird sounds field study field trips.
Friday 1:30pm–4:30pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center conference room



Migrating with the Sandhill Cranes
Erv Nichols
This fun presentation documents a 6-month journey Erv took with his partner following the Sandhill Crane migration from wintering grounds in New Mexico through the central flyway staging area in Nebraska to breeding grounds in Alaska, showcasing encounters with nature and wildlife along the way. Erv Nichols weaves facts and photographs into an entertaining tapestry of their journey and relationship with this remarkable bird. No charge and open to all.
Friday 2:00pm–3:00pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center Auditorium

 


Searching for the Gold Spot: The Wild after Wildfire (film)
Maya Khosla
Searching for the Gold Spot: The Wild after Wildfire is a 30-minute film about the rapid and amazing comeback of forests after wildfire. The story follows teams of scientists and firefighters through the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Mountains, and beyond, and shows hundreds of living, breathing reasons why our publicly-owned forests need to be saved from large-scale logging projects. The teams find rare Black-backed Woodpeckers, goshawks, Spotted Owls, their young, and many other animals using post-fire forests—a surprise and a new sense of hope for all. Filmmaker Maya Khosla will answer questions after the film. No charge and open to all.
Friday 3:30pm–4:30pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center Auditorium


Sixteenth annual gala dinner & gathering FULL
Chef Linda Dore
Join us early Friday evening at the Lee Vining Community Center as we continue our sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua! Meet old friends, chat with field trip leaders and presenters, socialize, eat, and make merry. Dinner will once again be prepared by one of the Eastern Sierra’s finest chefs, Linda Dore.

Menu:
Marinated and grilled Certified Angus tri tip, horseradish cream sauce, BBQ sauce
Jamaican Jerk marinated and grilled chicken
Polenta Torta with quinoa, spinach, kale, sun dried tomatoes, fontina cheese
Fresh summer vegetables
Brown and wild rice pilaf
Organic greens salad, balsamic dressing
Dinner breads, butter

Apple strudel
Oatmeal maple bars
Epic chocolate brownies with salted caramel

Iced tea, lemonade, water

Friday 5:00pm–7:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center
$22 additional program cost


The gala dinner is a separate a la carte event. You can register friends and family.

For a shorter queue, plan to arrive at the Community Center after 6:00pm.


Twilight birding (field trip) FULL
Nora Livingston & Ali Sheehey
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 Winnowing Snipes. We may even search for an owl or two once daylight is extinguished. We will use our ears as well as our eyes in this bird outing. 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



Twilight birding 2 (field trip) FULL
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 Winnowing Snipes. We may even search for an owl or two once daylight is extinguished. We will use our ears as well as our eyes in this nearby bird outing. Bring layered clothing for cooler weather after the sun sets and a headlamp. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Friday 7:00pm–9:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Chasing spring on the Pacific Crest Trail (evening presentation)
Bob Steele
In 2016 Bob and his wife Susan thru-hiked the 2,650 mile-long Pacific Crest Trail with a different goal than anyone else—counting all the birds. Their trek passed through magnificent scenery, diverse habitats, and afforded the chance to see birds moving northbound, from spring migration to summer breeding. With stunning photography and storytelling, this evening presentation will take you along the mountainous spine of the West Coast, winding from Mexico to Canada with a keen eye toward natural history and birds. Share in the joy and challenge of backpacking 140 days on one of the most famous trails in the Western Hemisphere, and glimpse some of the 200 species of birds found along the way.
Friday 7:30pm–8:30pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center auditorium



Conservation & recovery of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (evening presentation)
Erin Nordin
In 1999, the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae) was emergency listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The federal listing prompted the development of a plan that outlined actions and goals necessary to recover the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. However, prior to its federal listing, declines in the population motivated various organizations and agencies to implement actions to conserve and recover this subspecies. This presentation will touch on the biology of this alpine specialist, past and present conservation and recovery efforts, the current status of the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in relation to recovery goals, and threats that continue to affect our ability to recover this subspecies.
Friday 7:30pm–8:30pm
Mono Lake Committee Theater & Gallery



Enchanted evening: Stories & stars on the lakeshore (evening presentation)
Ane Carla Rovetta & Lisa Murphy
In the days before internet, TV, 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 will usher in the creatures of the night with her vivid and illuminating natural history stories and legends. Yosemite National Park ranger Lisa Murphy 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: From Lee Vining, drive approximately 5 miles south on Highway 395. Turn left on Highway 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 17, 2017


The road less birded: Benton Crossing Road FULL
Peter Metropulos
Join Peter on an adventurous journey to some “secret spots” off the beaten track. Starting at Layton Springs at the northeast side of Crowley Lake Reservoir we will head east through vast expanses of pinyons and sage to Wildrose Canyon, an isolated riparian corridor/aspen grove in the Glass Mountain Range. Eventually we will make our way to the historic old “town” of Benton Hot Springs. Finally we will loop back toward the Mono Basin on Highway 120 through the Adobe Valley. What to expect: gorgeous scenery, interesting and unique birds, awesome rock formations, and a historic old town. What NOT to expect: public restroom, gas station, food, store, cell phone reception. Short, easy to moderate walking near vehicle stops; bring lunch, snacks, and plenty of water (est. driving miles: 120; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:00am–3:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



DeChambeau to Virginia Lakes (field trip) 
Nora Livingston & Oliver James
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. In 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—as well as a few stops in between with the intention of seeing a diversity of species in these vastly different habitats. We will start low in search of sagebrush birds like Sage Thrasher, Green-tailed Towhee, Sage 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 a sack lunch and water for the day; we will be picnicking at the Virginia Lakes trailhead. (est. driving miles: 50; hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 6:00am–12:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Pinyonder wander (field trip)
Justin Hite

The dry pinyon-juniper woodlands are a bizarre and beautiful avian paradise. This walk will take us through the realm of many hard-to-find California birds, including Juniper Titmice, Plumbeous Vireos, and Pinyon Jays. There will be little shade and lots of wandering. (est. driving miles: 35, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 6:00am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Big day & more! Southern basin transect (field trip) FULL
Bob Power & 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. This program will take up to 20 participants. (est. driving miles: 110; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–4:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Bodie Hills: Birds & blossoms (field trip) FULL
Jora Fogg & Ann Howald
The Bodie Hills form the northern boundary of the Mono Basin and provide habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse and many other birds and over 500 species of plants. The view from the crest of the range is one of the most awe-inspiring in all of the Eastern Sierra. We will spend the morning exploring the remains of two historic mine sites and bird in an old-growth aspen stand at Masonic. Then we’ll go over the Geiger Grade to the head of Aurora Canyon to look for birds of open shrub habitats, mule deer, and pronghorn. We should see Townsend’s Solitaire, MacGillivray’s Warbler, nesting House Wren and Warbling Vireo, and various nuthatches and woodpeckers, among others. Bring sunscreen, water, lunch, and good walking shoes. This trip involves extensive driving on dirt roads. (est. driving miles: 80, high clearance required; hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–3:30pm 
Lee Vining Community Center



Crowley Lake: Marshes, migrants, mountains, & mud (field trip) FULL
Dave Shuford
Crowley Lake Reservoir, formed by the damming of the Owens River and cradled in the Long Valley caldera, offers spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Glass Mountain and White Mountain ranges to the east. Besides its wetland habitats hosting a variety of breeding and migrant waterbirds, Crowley is nestled amid a mix of sagebrush, wet meadows, and small alkali lakes, with riparian and pinyon woodlands nearby. June is the peak of the breeding season, and we should see several species of nesting ducks, shorebirds, and grebes, plus perhaps some over-summering non-breeders or late or early migrants. We also will view the largest Bank Swallow colony in the Eastern Sierra, Common Nighthawks harvesting the insect-rich air space over the lake, and typical sagebrush denizens, such as Sage Thrashers, Brewer’s Sparrows, Sage Sparrows, and, with luck, Loggerhead Shrikes and Greater Sage-Grouse. (est. driving miles: 90; hiking difficulty: easy, bring lunch, snacks, and plenty of water)
Saturday 6:30am–3:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Snag forest bird walk (field trip) 
Maya Khosla
We will explore two recently burned forests, looking for snag-dependent birds like White-headed, Hairy, Lewis’, and Black-backed Woodpeckers and secondary cavity nesters like Mountain Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. We’ll discuss the many ways that mixed-intensity fire supports biodiversity and ecological health in our conifer forests, and we'll see a habitat created by high-intensity fire called “complex early seral forest,” which is the rarest, most biodiverse, and most threatened of all forest habitat types in the Sierra Nevada. Many declining wildlife species depend upon this habitat, yet there are no meaningful protections for it. (est. total driving miles: 45, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding the Bridgeport Valley (field trip) FULL
Ted Beedy & Keith Hansen
Join Ted Beedy and Keith Hansen for an exploration of wetlands and lake habitats of Bridgeport Reservoir. Bridgeport Reservoir sits within beautiful Bridgeport Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater ranges. 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 Eagles and Ospreys. A pair of Sandhill Cranes has recently been nesting at Bridgeport Reservoir and there is a chance of seeing or hearing these rare Mono County birds. Participants typically see more than 50 species of birds on this field trip. (est. driving miles: 65, hiking difficulty: easy
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Bird sounds part 2 (field study)
Roy Poucher
This field trip is the “hands-on” part 2 companion to the part 1 workshop on Friday afternoon. The goal is to solidify the general techniques explored on Friday, 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. The Friday afternoon bird sounds workshop is a prerequisite for this event. Total walking distance will be about 1.2 easy miles at an elevation of up to 9,000 feet. (est. driving miles: 28, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Birding the June Lake Loop (field trip)
Ryan DiGaudio
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 water birds to woodpeckers. This is a drive and short-stroll outing. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Oasis in the desert: Alkali wetlands at Black Lake Preserve (field trip)
Kay Ogden & Susanna Danner
A rare wetland between the Benton Range and Black Mountain, the 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, as well as providing 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 Executive Director Kay Ogden and Land Conservation Program Director Susanna Danner as they lead an early-morning walking tour of this protected alkali lake and wetland. Likely sights in this amazing water year include rare alkali meadow plants, waterfowl, shorebirds, and, if we are lucky, Loggerhead Shrike. (est. driving miles: 130, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center
Approximately 1 hour drive each way to Black Lake Preserve

 


Photo walk with Bob Steele (field trip)
Bob Steele
Join professional bird photographer Bob Steele as we explore digital bird photography in the field. 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; 300mm lens; teleconverters, tripod, 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: 20, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 6:30am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birds & butts (field trip)
Kristie Nelson
This trip will focus on birds and butterflies of the region. At the convergence of the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada, the Mono Lake area is a prime birding hotspot where a fairly astounding variety can be observed. But did you also know this area has one of the highest diversities of butterflies in temperate North America? The Tioga Pass region alone has the highest diversity of Coppers in the world, a charming group of gorgeous little butterflies. We will visit multiple habitats in order to see and appreciate this region's unique assemblage of birds and butts (aka butterflies). Be prepared for moderate hiking, some at near 10,000 feet in elevation; bring layered clothing and a lunch. (est. driving miles: 75, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Saturday 7:00am–4:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding South Tufa & the Jeffrey pine forest (field trip) FULL
Colin Dillingham 
In a small area around the southwest shore of Mono Lake we’ll find birds that nest in sagebrush scrub and in dry, mature coniferous forest. These may include Lewis’ Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Pinyon Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Western Tanager, Green-tailed Towhee, and Brewer’s and Sage Sparrows. We’ll also identify and talk about shoreline waterbirds. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center

 


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 outcroppings of 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
Lee Vining Community Center



Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip)
Sarah Hockensmith
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 should provide additional flavor to the outing. During one or 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
Lee Vining Community Center



Woodpeckers in healthy riparian habitats (field trip) FULL
Stephen A. Shunk
The aspen-lined canyons of the Mono Basin offer some of the most exciting and productive summer birding in California. Join Oregon naturalist and North American woodpecker specialist Steve Shunk to explore the riparian richness of the region. Expect a thorough primer on the natural history of aspen woodlands and especially their nesting woodpeckers. In addition to studying woodpecker behavior, we will also search for a host of nesting songbirds, including Mountain Bluebird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Bullock’s Oriole, and Black-headed Grosbeak, as well as many birds of the adjacent mixed-conifer forest. (est. driving miles: 35, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center



Convict Lake: Birds & botany, rocks & remnants (field trip)
Steve McLaughlin
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 Mt. 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 Warblers, House Wrens, Green-tailed Towhees, Dusky Flycatchers, and Red-breasted Sapsuckers. Other species ranging from Calliope Hummingbirds to Bald Eagles may 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)
Saturday 7:30am–12:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding the Lakes Canyon trail (field trip)
Rodd Kelsey
This hike begins in the sagebrush at the Lundy Lake dam at about 7,800 feet in elevation and will take us steadily uphill above the south shore of the lake through willows, aspen, and conifer groves. 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 Sparrows, Brewer’s Sparrows, Cassin’s Finches, woodpeckers, Warbling Vireos, and others. We will not trek all the way to the lakes but will stop at an elevation of about 8,800 feet near the wilderness boundary. This is up to 3 miles of hiking round trip with spectacular views of lakes, streams, and high peaks. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: moderate to strenuous)
Saturday 7:30am–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



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 Mt. Dana and Mt. 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 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Lee Vining Canyon bird walk (field trip) FULL
Sarah Stock
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 out into the arid sagebrush scrub surrounding Mono Lake. American Dipper, Townsend’s Solitaire, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, and nesting bluebirds, swallows, and woodpeckers are among the many highlights that we may see on this trip. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Tarns & kettles (field trip)
Karen Amstutz
Come spend the morning at the crest 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 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 many more. Tioga Pass is a thoroughfare for birds and we could easily be surprised by a rare sighting as we explore seeking 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–12:00noon
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding for beginners (field trip)
Hillary Behr
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? 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 towards ages 10 and up. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 8:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Kayaking the south shore of Mono (field trip; $85 additional program cost)
Stuart Wilkinson & guide
Late spring reveals snow-capped mountains towering over a glassy Mono Lake—a great time to kayak! Join Stuart Wilkinson of Caldera Kayaks and a Mono Basin naturalist for a guided expedition along Mono’s south shore. This natural history kayak tour will cover a wide variety of topics relating to this unusual Great Basin lake, such as birds, geology, ecology, history, and politics. Expect to see underwater tufa towers, brine shrimp, lake-bottom springs, and a variety of birds. Some kayak experience is helpful, but not necessary; kayaks and safety equipment are provided. Minimum age is 14 years old, and minors must be accompanied by a parent. Does not count towards your registration limit.
Saturday 8:30am–1:00pm
meet at Navy Beach



Los Angeles Aqueduct Tour
Greg Reis
Do you ever wonder where the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power diverts water from four Mono Basin streams? And where that water goes? This dirt-road driving tour will follow the path of the LA Aqueduct in the Mono Basin starting at Lee Vining Creek, past Walker Creek and Parker Creek, past Grant Lake Reservoir on Rush Creek, to the West Portal of the Mono Craters Tunnel. We will stop and get out of our cars frequently to discuss how aqueduct operations affect the stream ecosystems under the current rules, and what improvements are expected under a recent settlement agreement. With record snowpack in some portions of the watershed, we will see very high flows and possibly Grant Lake Reservoir spilling! (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 9:00am–1:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center


Ghosts, guns, & gold: Bodie revealed (field trip) FULL
Terri Geissinger 
Bodie, one of California’s most famous state parks, was once known as the most lawless, wildest, and toughest mining camp in the West and boasted a population of 8,500 people in the 1880s. Join Terri, the Bodie Foundation historian, for a fascinating walk through town and hear stories about the characters who lived in this legendary settlement. We’ll then get a special tour through the 110-year-old stamp mill that processed much of the gold and silver and still houses some of the original equipment. The weather at this 8,400-foot elevation can be unpredictable so wear sunscreen and dress in layers. (est. driving miles: 62, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 1:00pm–6:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Touring policy hot spots FULL

Geoff McQuilkin
Join Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin for a tour of the Mono Basin with discussions focusing on the current epic wet year in the Mono Basin and what that means for Mono Lake and the tributary streams. Stops will include Mono Lake’s tributary streams during high flow conditions, Los Angeles Aqueduct infrastructure, and an overlook toward the California Gull protection fence on the landbridge to Negit Island. Geoff will describe the Committee’s role in forecasting and documenting the changes we’re seeing and will explain the work ahead to continue to safeguard Mono Lake. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 1:00pm–4:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Mindfulness in nature: A deep nature connection adventure (outdoor workshop)
Peter Bergen
This full immersion “dirt time” experience into the natural world is an invitation to spend an afternoon in the field exploring, grounding, and having fun connecting with our own wild and true selves, one another, and the natural world. This curiosity and passion-led program for adults provides unforgettable experiences, while developing an appreciation for the beautiful and wild places of the Mono Basin. “Dirt time” means hands-on fun, so be prepared to get a little dusty and dirty!
Saturday 1:00pm–4:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Introduction to image editing (indoor workshop)
Bob Steele
Join professional bird photographer Bob Steele as we explore digital photo editing in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom. Topics discussed and demonstrated will include: image storage and backup strategies, converting RAW images using Adobe Camera RAW (PS and PSE plug-in), basic image editing for JPEG and TIFF images, sizing and sharpening images for different outputs—email, internet, printing—and a group discussion with questions and answers. For more information about Bob Steele, and to see more of his photography, check out his website: bobsteelephoto.com.
Saturday 1:00pm–5:00pm
Mono Lake Committee Theater & Gallery

 


Fly casting clinic (outdoor workshop)
Trout Unlimited
Have you always wanted to learn how to cast a fly fishing rod? Or improve your current casting stroke? Members of the Eastern Sierra Chapter of Trout Unlimited will provide a free fly casting demonstration clinic that will help you improve regardless of your current level of experience. This clinic is open to all ages from beginners to advanced casters. Rods and reels will be provided or you can bring your own equipment. No charge and open to all. (Zero driving, zero hiking)
Saturday 1:00pm–3:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip) FULL
Scott Dietrich
We will head up Lundy Canyon with open minds regarding what we may see, enjoying the wonderful assemblage of breeding birds of 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. Among the birds to be expected include sapsuckers, woodpeckers, pewees, vireos, jays, nuthatches, creepers, wrens, chickadees, grosbeaks, swallows, warblers, Western Tanagers, juncos, towhees, sparrows, and finches. We will be walking mostly on dirt roads/trails with some light off-trail walking possible. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Saturday 1:30pm–5:30pm
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Who gives a hoot? (presentation)
Burleigh Lockwood
Join Burleigh Lockwood to learn which owl says what. We will discuss raptors in general and compare owls with hawks. Many “biofacts” will be shared along with mounted specimens for a real hands-on experience. We’ll also learn how to hoot! This has consistently been one of the Chautauqua’s most popular events. Open to kids of all ages.
Saturday 1:30pm–3:00pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center conference room



Birding Lower Parker Canyon (field trip) FULL
Santiago Escruceria
Join Santiago 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



Fields' guide to Osprey (field trip) FULL
Lisa Fields
We will drive to South Tufa where we will walk to the lake to view active Osprey nests, discuss why a fish-eating bird is living at 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 exposed areas so please bring a hat, water, and sunscreen. Open to kids of all ages. (est. driving miles: 22, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 2:00pm–5:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



A bird’s-eye view of bugs (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 for bugs on the ground, leaves, bark, soil, and in the air. And maybe even take a taste test of our own. Open to kids of all ages and parents. No charge and open to all.
Saturday 2:00pm–4:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center



Survivor! A story of adaptation (workshop)
Burleigh Lockwood 
Burleigh could speak on the subject of dirt and have an audience riveted for hours. She’s back this year with a presentation about the desert. What is a “desert” and what are the characteristics of the Eastern Sierra, Great Basin, and the Mojave, the three desert environments that meet in eastern California? Could you survive if you couldn’t move to water and shade? Plants can! What kind of plants and animals live in this uniquely diverse desert area. What adaptations are necessary for them to survive in a desert? Allow Burleigh to educate and entertain you in her usual style. Open to kids of all ages. (est. driving miles: 8)
Saturday 3:30pm–5:00pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center conference room 



Twilight birding (field trip) FULL

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 Snipes. We may even search for an owl or two once daylight is extinguished. We will use our ears as well as our eyes in this nearby bird outing. 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



Twilight birding 2 (field trip) FULL
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 Snipes. We may even search for an owl or two once daylight is extinguished. We will use our ears as well as our eyes in this nearby bird outing. 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



Drawing the denizens of the high desert (workshop
)
Ane Carla Rovetta
When one spots an animal there is instant recognition of form. Before we even pull a field guide from our pocket we intuit what it was. This is gestalt, the illusive suchness of an entity. We will be exploring gestalt using charcoal and earthen chalks made by the instructor out of local soils. We will draw three Great Basin animals as well as explore the color and folklore of each. Come and join Ane Carla for a session surely to be educational, entertaining, and engaging.
Saturday 7:00pm–9:00pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center conference room



Woodpeckers of Yosemite (evening presentation)
Stephen A. Shunk
Yosemite is well known as a bastion of bird diversity, and the region’s list of 12 woodpecker species is the longest of any US National Park. Woodpeckers represent one of the most specialized bird families in the world, and from the Nuttall’s Woodpecker of the western lowlands to the high-elevation Williamson’s Sapsucker, Yosemite’s woodpeckers play critical ecological roles in the park’s forests and woodlands. Join naturalist, author, birding guide, and hopeless woodpecker vagabond Steve Shunk for an exciting journey into the lives and times of Yosemite’s woodpeckers. Steve will discuss the natural history and ecology of the park’s 12 woodpecker species, and he will share the ways these woodland carpenters evolved to fill keystone roles in Yosemite’s forests.
Saturday 7:30pm–8:30pm
Scenic Area Visitor Center auditorium



Words take flight: A reading
Tom Crawford
Birds and Mono Lake are synonymous. Idealism sneaks into Tom Crawford's poetry as birds become a kind of mantra for the sacred, for all living things on the planet. For this Chautauqua, Crawford has collected 20 poems in a small chapbook entitled Such a Waste of Stars. He'll be reading some of those and others from previous books, including The Names of Birds and Caging the Robin. As author David James Duncan has remarked, "Tom, for me, is the greatest bard of North American birds I've read. Period. If you love these uncanny creatures, watch, feed and dream them, crane your neck in speeding cars and strain your eyes against sun or snow to track them, believe me: you're already in this wonderful poetry".
Saturday 7:30pm–8:30pm
Mono Lake Committee Theater & Gallery



Bats in Lee Vining Canyon FULL
Lisa Murphy
Join Yosemite Ranger Lisa Murphy on a bat walk at Lee Vining canyon.  We will be using Sonobat Live acoustical monitoring equipment, which will allow us to identify each bat by species through an analysis of their ultrasonic echolocation calls as they fly over. In addition we will also have a lovely experience of watching, feeling, and hearing day turn to night in a beautiful setting! (est. driving miles: 10, hiking difficulty: easy)
Saturday 7:30pm–10:00pm
Lee Vining Community Center

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Birding the June Lake Loop (field trip) FULL
Oliver James
Join Oliver on this birding tour of the scenic June Lake Loop. The route covers a variety of habitats and therefore we should see a variety of birds. Reservoirs such as Grant Lake may hold lingering loons or mergansers. Mountain conifers and riparian aspens are home to many species—Mountain Chickadees, Olive-sided Flycatchers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, and many more. We may also explore the June Lake burn area near Highway 395, which will undoubtedly yield woodpecker species. (est. driving miles: 35, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 6:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Birding the Bridgeport Valley (field trip) FULL
Ted Beedy
Join Ted Beedy for an exploration of wetlands and lake habitats of Bridgeport Reservoir. Bridgeport Reservoir sits within beautiful Bridgeport Valley between the Sierra Nevada and Sweetwater ranges. 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 Eagles and Ospreys. A pair of Sandhill Cranes has recently been nesting at Bridgeport Reservoir and there is a chance of seeing or hearing these rare Mono County birds. Participants typically see more than 50 species of birds on this field trip. (est. driving miles: 65, hiking difficulty: easy
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center 



Finches, woodpeckers, and birding the pine woodlands (field trip) FULL
Susan Steele
On this trip we will explore Jeffrey/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 Woodpecker, 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, watching 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: easy to moderate)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding Antelope Valley & Topaz Lake (field trip) FULL
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 Juniper Titmouse are likely, as well as raptors, sparrows, and neotropical migrants. After a couple 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 walk along the southern shore of Topaz Lake to investigate what species might be breeding in the hidden southeast corner of the lake. We will end our trip at Topaz Lake, and for those heading north into Nevada and northern California, we can continue the trip to Washoe Valley. (est. driving miles to and from Lee Vining: 130, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Bird sounds part 2 (field study)
Roy Poucher

This field trip is the “hands-on” part 2 companion to the part 1 workshop on Friday afternoon. The goal is to solidify the general techniques explored on Friday, 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. The Friday afternoon bird sounds workshop is a prerequisite for this event. Total walking distance will be about 2 miles at an elevation of up to 8,500 feet. (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 6:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding South Tufa & the Jeffrey pine forest (field trip) FULL

Scott Dietrich 
In a small area around the southwest shore of Mono Lake we’ll find birds that nest in sagebrush scrub and in dry, mature coniferous forest. These may include Lewis’ Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Pinyon Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Western Tanager, Green-tailed Towhee, and Brewer’s and Sage Sparrows. We’ll also identify and talk about shoreline waterbirds. (est. driving miles: 30, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birds & burns (field trip) FULL

Stephen A. Shunk
For too many years, we have branded fire as an enemy of our forested wildlands, but fire is actually a critical ecological component of healthy forests. On this trip we will explore several burned patches of the world’s largest Jeffrey pine forest, including the 2016 Clark Fire southeast of June Lake. Wandering through blackened columns left by lightning-caused fires, we’ll discover a rarely enjoyed new world of wildflowers, resprouting shrubs, and once-proud pines fast becoming homes for Black-backed and Hairy Woodpeckers and other cavity-nesters. Join North American woodpecker specialist Steve Shunk for an interpretation of western forest ecology, including the critical role of fire and the keystone roles of the forests’ woodpeckers. Expect a moderate meander of approximately four miles through one of the Eastern Sierra’s most under-appreciated ecosystems. (est. driving miles: 60, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Behavior, physiology, & natural history of High Sierra birds (field trip) FULL
Tom Hahn
This trip will make a couple of stops in Lee Vining Canyon on the way up into the Tioga Pass vicinity, and provides 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



Birding Bohler Canyon post-fire (field trip) FULL
Ryan Burnett
For years we've led Chautauqua field trips to one of the Mono Basin’s lesser-visited treasures, Bohler Canyon. This area recently burned in the Walker Fire (August 2015), so the old aspen stands are now scorched and the sagebrush is gone, but this treasure is not destroyed—in fact, it is still bustling with birds and a diversity of wildflowers that are flourishing after the fire.  This year's walk will focus on how habitat bounces back after fire and what it means for the wildlife that inhabits it. We will see cavity nesters like woodpeckers, swallows, bluebirds, and wrens, as well as Lazuli Bunting, Cassin’s Finch, wood-pewees, and more. (est. driving miles: 10, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate, high clearance)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding Lee Vining Canyon (field trip) FULL

Michelle Desrosiers
Lee Vining Canyon provides great Eastern Sierra birding from the top to the bottom. The canyon covers high alpine habitats above Ellery Lake all the way to Great Basin sagebrush and riparian habitats down near Lee Vining, as Lee Vining Creek drains into Mono Lake. On this field trip we will spend some time walking at lower elevations, where species observed may include Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, American Dipper, Black-chinned Hummingbird, and Green-tailed Towhee. Then we’ll head to the high country, driving up Lee Vining Canyon, stopping to look for Gray-crowned Rosy-finches on talus slopes near the lakes, followed by a walk along Saddlebag Lake Road (approximately 9,500 feet) to look for high elevation breeders like Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, Clark’s Nutcracker, Dusky Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, and Mountain White-crowned Sparrow. Hopefully we’ll see some surprises too! (est. driving miles: 20, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Lundy Canyon bird walk (field trip) FULL
Justin Hite
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 should provide additional flavor to the outing. During one or 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
Lee Vining Community Center



Mono dunes critter caper (field trip) FULL
John Harris
Join mammal expert John Harris for a morning of 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 a number of the small mammals that characterize the Great Basin, including the dark kangaroo mouse, Ord’s and Panamint kangaroo rats, Great Basin pocket mouse, and sagebrush 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 Sage Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Juniper Titmouse, and Gray Flycatcher. Open to kids of all ages. (est. driving miles: 40, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birding Rush Creek Delta (field trip) FULL
Peter Metropulos
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. Once at the delta we will experience an awesome setting, watch birds coming in to bathe in the fresh water, and discuss the history of Rush Creek and its importance to the health of the ecosystem of the Mono Lake. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: moderate)
Sunday 7:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center

 


Birding Burger's Retreat (field trip) FULL
Dave Shuford
We’ll drive up and over a steep moraine out of Lee Vining Canyon, with spectacular views of Mt. 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 outcroppings of rocks. Green-tailed Towhee, woodpeckers, warblers, flycatchers, and many others may make an appearance. (est. driving miles: 6, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:00am–10:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Exploring the Mono Basin (field trip) FULL
Greg Stock
Join Yosemite National Park geologist Greg Stock for a combination driving/hiking tour of the stunning geology of the Mono Basin. From volcanic craters to glacial moraines, massive mountains to tufa towers, the Eastern Sierra holds some of the most spectacular and accessible geology anywhere in the world. This field trip will present, in understandable fashion, the geologic stories behind such scenic wonders as Mono Lake, the Mono Craters, Lee Vining Canyon, and Tioga Pass. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what formed the diverse landscapes of the Mono Basin, this trip is for you. (est. driving miles: 35, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Walk quietly & carry a big lens on Sunday too (field trip) FULL
Santiago Escruceria 
Join Santiago for an easily accessible and gentle stroll next to a beautiful riparian corridor to photograph birds. With our own cameras we will shoot for orioles, finches, wrens, swallows, Osprey, and eagles. We will investigate basic technique and take advantage of the morning light. (est. driving miles: 22, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Exploring Rattlesnake Gulch (field trip) FULL
Bob Power & 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 offer 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 not only interest birders, but photographers as well. Please bring your hand-held radios for communication between vehicles if you have them. (est. driving miles: 25, hiking difficulty: easy to moderate)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Nature ramble
Ali Sheehey
This walk will have it all: birds, butterflies, flowers, you name it! Ali will focus on viewing, identifying, and photographing critters of the air, as well as teach you how to tell butterfly families apart and the natural history of the habitats as you explore them. Understanding ecosystem relationships can help you locate and identify birds and butterflies too. Bring your binoculars and field guides (both butterfly and bird) if you have them. Open to kids of all ages. (est. driving miles: 24, hiking difficulty: easy)
Sunday 7:30am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Birds and words: Writing in the woods
Tom Crawford
Writing poetry is mostly about the urgency of feelings. Everyone has a poem or two that's trying to get out. Maybe, in that wild enterprise, Tom will help you discover your very own voice. Putting words on paper is a sure way to begin the process. And putting butts on the ground and in the woods, very much in the way John Muir did, will also help. Tom can't teach you to write a poem, but he can get the juices flowing. Risk-taking is mostly what's required. Just expect to have a good time.
Sunday 8:00am–11:00am
Lee Vining Community Center



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 exposed areas 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



Capturing birds with pencil & paper (workshop)
Keith Hansen
Join Keith Hansen for a session of bird illustration. Learn to capture birds on paper with techniques that will aid and enhance your experiences while birding. Whether you want to render quick impressions of birds in the field for your notebook, or create something of beauty that you have seen, this class will help you to achieve that goal. With step-by-step demonstrations, Keith will cover many elements, including basic anatomy and form, perspective, foreshortening, effects of lighting, negative space, back ground contrast, and others that will give you a good foundation for rendering your own images. From beginner to expert, this class will aid in and increase your overall enjoyment of your time spent in nature.
Materials to bring include:
Any kind of notebook or sketch pad you would like
2 or 3 pencils with various hardness from medium to soft
Razor blade/sharp pocket knife as well as some “not too rough” sandpaper for keeping pencils sharp
An eraser, either an “Art Gum” or “Magic Rub”
Sunday 9:00am–11:30am
Lee Vining Community Center



Picnic & music at Mono Lake County Park
(and the bird calling contest)
Join us Sunday afternoon for a picnic in the park complete with live music. This is a perfect way to kick off your summer by enjoying lunch, relaxing in the green shady glow of County Park, and immersing yourself in music. Feel free to bring your own lunch or consider purchasing lunch for $10 at County Park, which benefits Lee Vining High School. We'll continue our traditional bird calling contest. Come enjoy good food and live music with new and old friends as we recap the weekend's bird sightings or steal away down the boardwalk for a last-minute glimpse at the birds. This is a great way to end the Chautauqua! A fun event for family pods and humans of all ages.

This year’s live musical guest: The Bodie 601 Band

Sunday beginning at 12:00noon
Mono Lake County Park


To get to County Park from Lee Vining, head north on Highway 395 approximately 5 miles and turn right on Cemetery Road. Go down the hill and look for parking directions. Carpooling from Lee Vining is highly recommended.




Other things to do during Chautauqua week


Birding at Mono Lake County Park & Tufa State Natural Reserve boardwalk
Wrens, warblers, woodpeckers, and waterbirds can be seen in this rich variety of habitats. We'll make our way from the sagebrush through the old cottonwoods, around the willow thickets, and down the boardwalk to the shoreline of Mono Lake. Led by a Mono Lake Committee naturalist. Open to kids of all ages.
Friday 8:00am–10:00am. No registration required.
Sunday 8:00am–10:00am. No registration required.

Meet in the parking lot at Mono Lake County Park.

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 8:00am–9:00pm 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.




A note about programs, limits, kids, etc.


Presentations range between 25 and 100 people, depending on the venue. Workshop attendance can vary between 12–25 people. Field trips are typically limited to 15 registered participants to each leader, except where otherwise noted. We reserve the right to adjust trip size in order to not split up couples, or to allow volunteers and trip leaders a chance to attend trips. We consult with field trip leaders, and we are strict about registration limits.

Special events, the dinner, and the picnic do not count toward your Chautauqua registration limit, but you may still have to register for them. Check the program information carefully. Special events are not listed on the master schedule, and you don't have to register for them, so make a separate note of them if you're interested.

Many programs are great for kids because of the dynamic subject, location, or leader. When we say kids, we mean kids of all ages, so you will find a lot of adults in these programs as well. Kid-appropriate programs are noted with "Open to kids of all ages" text.


For more information about Chautauqua etiquette, transportation, what to bring, etc, see the Event Details page.