Observers: Justin Hite, Paul McFarland, Chris McCreedy, Chris Tonra
Time: 11:21 PM -0400
After a marvelous breakfast in the house of happy soon-to-be parents, I posed the question: “So, who wants to jump in McCreedy’s jeep and head out to Sammon’s Springs?” Four of us did, and we headed off to spend Paul’s first day of paternity leave loitering in the tufa-infested marshes on the back side of Mono Lake. Our first sighting was unbelievable, a blonde black bear foraging in the sagebrush well east of Willow Springs. The wind was with us and we got many good pictures in more than five minutes of watching this smallish hungry bear before it finally spotted us and bolted toward the lake. Later we enjoyed a single Mockingbird – quite the enigma at Mono Lake – and three Western Kingbirds above Tower Tufa’s marsh where blooming rabbitbrush fades into blooming goldenrod and you can hardly tell the difference. In a grove of Wood’s Rose at the marsh’s edge we admired the enormous and beautiful caterpillar of a Silk Moth. Down on the lake 14 Caspian Terns were loafing with many more California Gulls, a single Marbled Godwit, two Dowitchers and assorted Calidris. Two male Black-bellied Plovers in handsome breeding plumage inspected the fresh-ish lagoons, and thousands of Phalaropes of both species swam in circles as a Savannah Sparrow died in the talons of a diving Prairie Falcon. All six species of swallows were swarming above, the most numerous being migrating Banks. We saw Tree Swallow last as the four of us sat naked on the shoreline after a perfect swim and he swooped down in front of us all catching the sun on his sparkling blue face and back. It was a beautiful day. Congratulations Paul and Yvette!