Sammon Spring

Observers: Chris McCreedy
Email: cmccreedy at
Remote Name:
Date: 01/15/2007
Time: 08:50 PM -0500

I have always wanted to explore Sammon Spring in the winter. Itís on the southeast side of Mono Lake, and itís like a myth. There are two-story tufas, grass forever, and no sign of roads, wires, or humans. Itís always too far and too snowy to try to get there in the winter. But the springs are lush, and they support interesting things Ė particularly migrant shorebirds. Today was the perfect opportunity: calm, with hardly any snow. The sandy two-tracks are frozen and easy to drive. The marsh at Sammon Spring is usually very wet, but today it was very frozen, and I skated down to the lake. But sometimes myths are myths because you canít get to them. The frozen grasslands were easy to walk through, but they had frozen out the birds. There werenít any shorebirds Ė there wasnít a shore. Mono Lake is so high that the lake edges right next to the grass and ice. 100% of the ducks were Mallards. Mal-lard. Maybe French for Beautiful Place Lacking Birds. Or French for trans-fat. There was a male Short-eared Owl, and a female Northern Harrier. And a lone Red-winged Blackbird. She was the most-unexpected thing, I donít know what she was doing out there (besides clicking at me). Three Marsh Wrens, two Juniper Titmice, and a shrike in a buffaloberry tree. I tried the Rush Creek delta, and that was just as surprising: just two coots. Eerie! Perhaps all of the birds are at the Mill Creek delta. Or in Mexico. But Mono Lake is definitely devoid of bird food right now: all of the Mallards were in the cattails at Sammon Spring, far from the lake.

Short-eared Owl © Chris McCreedy