A vivid day in the Mono Basin (29 Sep 2007)

Observers: Chris McCreedy and Justin Hite
Email: cmccreedyatprbodotorg
Date: 09/30/2007
Time: 03:59 PM -0400

A vivid day in the Mono Basin. Justin and I got beached on Mono Lake’s north shore shoals, where alkali flies haven’t yet given up the ghost. Several birds know this, and we followed them. Most unusual were a Willet, and a Bonaparte’s Gull in its winter plumage. But some days, all the birds seem unusual. Three dowitchers broke from a group of eight, leading us down the beach for a time. They lost us in the shoals, where a Northern Harrier rescued us across the black rock fields to the County Ponds. The Ponds were full of life, a loud vortex of Tree, Barn, and a few Violet-green Swallows spun like shearwaters over anchovies. A late and juvenile Black-crowned Night-heron hid in the Typha, and Marsh Wrens argued with the coots. Then uphill to the Dechambeau Ponds, where three Lewis’ Woodpeckers caught late summer bees from the deadwood piles. Then to Dechambeau Ranch, where no two buildings look alike. We found two Red-breasted Sapsuckers, a Willow Flycatcher, a Gray or Hammond’s Flycatcher (we will get back to you about this), and a Great-horned Owl in the Lombardy Poplars. We had to be back to town by 3, and so we thought: “where might we find a lot of birds fast,” and the Mono Cemetery presented itself. Another Lewis’ Woodpecker in the elms, will they ever stop irrupting, juvenile Western-wood Pewees experimenting with their new-found wings, and a Cooper’s Hawk like a grim reaper, watching the Chipping Sparrows with feigned disinterest. Later: Justin is done, but I couldn’t stop birding, the day was too fine. A Northern Goshawk swooped in front of me at the Tioga Lodge – what was it after? How many birds got eaten in the Mono Basin yesterday? Then the Rush Creek delta, where the Sora lingered in the lagoon, a juvenile Snowy Egret waited for its legs to turn black, and wondrously, I saw a Merlin take a bath.