Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Eastern Sierra Audubon Society

Sierra Wave


Volume 31, Number 5
May-June, 2013

Sierra Wave Newsletter

Volume 31, Number 4
March-April, 2013



Wednesday, June 5th - Birds of Colombia with Santiago Escruceria

Note that this program will be held at the Crowley Lake Community Center (directions).

We will be having a Dessert Potluck at 6:30 pm (bring a dessert to share, and your own dishes/utensils), followed by Santiago's program on Birds of Colombia at 7:00 pm - don't miss it!

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Columbia. Photo by Santiago Escruceria

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Colombia
Photo by Santiago Escruceria

The photos in the program are from the Southwest corner of Colombia, Departamento (state) del Valle, Cali area. We will "visit" four distinct regions: Coordillera Central (Central Andes Range), Laguna de Sonso, wetlands north of Cali, open grass and riparian corridor, south of Cali, at the foothills of the Coordillera Occidental (Western Andes Range), and we visit the highlands in the Coordillera Occidental, which it is an IBA region. Colombia has about 1,889 species of birds, the country with the highest recorded number of species, next is Peru with 1,834 and in third place Brazil with 1,785. Colombia has 76 endemics, 162 species of hummingbirds, 203 species of flycatchers, and 141 species of Tanagers. The areas he visits have a combined list of over 626 species. If you want to go birding there, he'll take you!!!!

Santiago M Escruceria is a Colombian-born American citizen residing in California for the past 34 years. He graduated with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University in Northern California. He has taught environmental education, in Spanish and English, for the past 20years, 14 of which he has spent with the Mono Lake Committee. At Mono Lake he manages the Mono Lake Committee's Outdoor Experiences program for Los Angeles inner-city youth. Santiago is an avid birder, leading bird walks for, ESAS, school groups, and the public in the Mono Basin. He has been birding the Americas since 1986.

In 2007, Santiago started his birding Colombia tour company – Guadualito Birding Tours – when he realized that he and many birders in his tours shared similar passions for birds. Knowing that he could bring people to the Colombian countryside that turned him onto a life's worth of work, he set out to provide birders with the opportunity. 

Directions: The Crowley Lake Community Center is next to the Crowley Lake General Store, on the corner of South Landing and Pearson Road. From Bishop and other points south, exit at Crowley Lake and turn left on South Landing Road. From Mammoth and other points north, drive south to Crowley Lake, exit and turn right on South Landing Road. Turn left on the first street past the General Store, and right into the Community Center parking lot. Allow 1/2 hour driving time from Bishop, 15 minutes from Mammoth.

This program is free of charge and the public is welcome!

For more information contact Jenny Richardson (email jennyn63@gmail.com or call 760-920-8541). Also, check our programs page for updates and the exciting list of speakers for the 2013 season. Everyone is welcome to attend all programs!

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Upcoming ESAS Field Trips and Other Events

Mammoth Creek Birding, Saturday May 11th

Leader: Jane Kenyon

Celebrate International Migratory Birding Day with a walk along Mammoth Creek, looking and listening especially for migrating songbirds. Distance is about a mile to the Mammoth Museum and back. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Mammoth Creek Park on Old Mammoth Road, one block south of Chateau Road. Last year participants found the beautiful ceanothus silk moth, the pygmy nuthatch and a house wren building their nests; as well as a northern flicker hollowing out a tree snag. Trip will last about ninety minutes. For more information please phone the leader at 934-0372.

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Mono Lake Volunteer Training Begins May 22nd

Help visitors enjoy their Mono Lake experience by sharing your knowledge of this unique salty lake and its natural history.  Six free half day field training sessions will be held on Wednesday/Thursday afternoons from 1-4pm starting on May 22.  An 8 hour per month commitment per month from June through September is requested. Email Janet for more information: jcarle@qnet.com

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Bishop COSA Bird Walk & Census, Saturday, May 25, 7:30-9:30am

Leader: Hillary Behr

Birders at the COSA

Birders at our first COSA walk in March

Our monthly Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) Bird Walk and Census will be held on Saturday, May 25th this month. The new Conservation Open Space Area is being developed for wildlife and the community by the Bishop Paiute Tribe. We'll be keeping species lists and observing behavior as well as identifying birds, for the purpose of creating bird lists for the site. Come and check out the new COSA and help census the birds that are using the area. For more information, read this article on the COSA in the March-April Sierra Wave newsletter. We hope to see you there!

All are welcome - these walks will be for birders of any level, including beginners. We will bring some extra binoculars to share with anyone who is interested and doesn't have their own. If you are coming, and have extra binoculars you are willing to share, bring them along!

We will meet at 7:30am at the BLM/Forest Service Building on West Line Street in Bishop. Contact Jenny Richardson for more information, or if you are interested in leading a future monthly walk and census: jennyn63@gmail.com or call 760-920-8541.

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Bishop COSA, Bird Walk and Census, Saturday, June 8th, 7:30 am

Leader: Larry Nahm

Birders at the COSA

Birders at our first COSA walk in March

Our monthly Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) Bird Walk and Census will be held on Saturday, June 8th this month. The new Conservation Open Space Area is being developed for wildlife and the community by the Bishop Paiute Tribe. We'll be keeping species lists and observing behavior as well as identifying birds, for the purpose of creating bird lists for the site. Come and check out the new COSA and help census the birds that are using the area. For more information, read this article on the COSA in the March-April Sierra Wave newsletter. We hope to see you there!

All are welcome - these walks will be for birders of any level, including beginners. We will bring some extra binoculars to share with anyone who is interested and doesn't have their own. If you are coming, and have extra binoculars you are willing to share, bring them along!

We will meet at 7:30am at the BLM/Forest Service Building on West Line Street in Bishop. Contact Jenny Richardson for more information, or if you are interested in leading a future monthly walk and census: jennyn63@gmail.com or call 760-920-8541.

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Birding at Mono Lake and Vicinity, Saturday, June 29th

Leader: Santiago Escruceria

Join Santiago Escruceria of the Mono Lake Committee seeking breeding species in the Mono Lake Basin. We'll meet in the County Park off the northwest end of Mono Lake at 8:00 am.  Walk will not be lengthy, but may include visit to Parker Creek.  Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellent, binoculars and lunch.  The outing will end mid-afternoon.  For more information please contact Santiago at (707) 328-6371.

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Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, June 14-16th

Opening day for registration for the Twelfth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua was the most robust ever with well over 200 people registering. There are still many birding events with space available as well as ample room left in the non-birding events. Two additional field trips have just been added. If you know someone who may not be a birding enthusiast but has an appreciation for nature and the arts please tell them to check out the program information on the Bird Chautauqua web site. Trees, wildflowers, bugs and butterflies, writing, sketching birds, poetry, storytelling, photography and image editing, bowl and spoon crafting, and kids events are among the events that still have openings. Kids 12 and under register for free! As always the final event will be a picnic, concert, and bird calling contest at Mono Lake County Park. The Bird Chautauqua takes place June 14th-16th and is based out of Lee Vining. For complete information or to register please visit: www.birdchautauqua.org.

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Owens Lake Shorebird Identification Field Trip, August 17th

Leaders: Jon Dunn and Mike Prather

Shorebirds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Shorebirds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Learn how to identify those pesky peeps. No longer must you hide from those darned Dowitchers. Be able to walk confidently into the richest shorebird habitat in Inyo County with your head held high. Join Jon Dunn and Mike Prather Saturday, August 17th for a shorebird field trip out onto Owens Lake. Birders of all skill levels are welcome for a fun morning of learning.

Meet at Diaz Lake County Park parking lot, 3 miles south of Lone Pine on Hwy 395 at 7AM. Bring your hat, sunscreen, water, lunch and snacks. Contact Mike Prather - mprather@lonepinetv.com - if you have any questions. The trip is scheduled to catch the peak of the fall migration.

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Owens Lake Fall Big Day, August 20th

Mark your calendars! The Fall Big Day at Owens Lake will be on August 20th. Contact Mike Prather to volunteer - mprather@lonepinetv.com

Our Fall Big Day is scheduled for Tuesday, August 20th. The data that we gather will be used in the management of habitat and birds by LADWP, Audubon, State Lands Commission and CA DFG. Your commitment to Owens Lake in real terms is invaluable.

Meet at 7:00 AM at the Diaz Lake parking lot. We will have a brief introduction and then get out on the lake in small groups. Car pooling is helpful, although not required. Roads are unpaved, but good. Bring a safety vest if you have one. We will provide them as well. Check the weather and dust cams to know what to expect closer to the date.

For more information and to sign up, contact Mike Prather at 760-876-5807 or mprather@lonepinetv.com. Be sure to look for and become a friend of Owens Lake on Facebook for updates and great photos!

Read more on our Owens Lake page

Owens Lake Spring Big Day 2012

Birders at Owens Lake Big Day, April 25, 2012. Photo by Michael Prather

Check back for additions and updates here and on the Field Trips page of the ESAS website.

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President’s Message

Trust that still, small voice that says, ‘this might work’

— Diane Mariechild

Spring has begun to take hold in the Sierra, bringing a sense of the quickening of life. The trees and shrubs are leafing out and the first flowers add color to what was a barren landscape. It natural to be optimistic this time of year. Eastern Sierra Audubon is a big part of my spring optimism because of some organizational transitions and the continuing creativity and energy contributed by our members.

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole heralding spring, photo by Debby Parker

Years ago, a display of the Presidential office of Ronald Reagan came to the state fair. It was contained in a truck trailer which, thankfully, was air-conditioned against the hot Sacramento summer. I wanted to visit the display to look for a saying which was reportedly on a small placard on the desk, and there it was. “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit” read the small sign. I looked at it, for several minutes. There is such truth to this and I still think about the phrase frequently.

Two items in this newsletter are related to this thought. The first concerns the ongoing saga of Owens Lake planning. So much work has been done by so many good people and still we struggle to get past individual self-interest. The danger in this situation is that there is a limit to what can be done if people are looking for someone to blame.

The second item concerns the re-structuring of Eastern Sierra Audubon. It has been my honor to serve as the chapter's president for some time and I am constantly impressed by how much is accomplished by our little organization. I could easily fill each President's message thanking board members, committee people and all our other volunteers for their work, creativity and inspiration. I want to highlight the contributions of three people who are leaving the board of directors and who have contributed so much during their service to ESAS. James Wilson, Bill Mitchel and Sara Steck are stepping down and will be very much missed. These individuals did so much to create, nurture and sustain our chapter and bring it to the place it holds in the Eastern Sierra. When you see them, please express your appreciation for their good works.

In addition to our reorganization, there is other chapter news: our Eastern Sierra Birding Trails Map, a joint project of ESAS and The Mono Lake Committee, has been named one of America's forty best bird map/guides by National Audubon. This map has also been selected to appear on the National Geographic Sierra eco-tourism website. In addition, we continue to work with the Bishop Paiute Tribe to develop and implement programs which will create an outdoor education center at the tribes Conservation Open Space Area. We have begun our year-long bird census project at the COSA. The first two trips were really fun; we invite you to join us as often as possible in the coming months. As always, keep an eye on our website for chapter doings. Get out and enjoy the Eastern Sierra spring.

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Owens Lake Update

The Owens Lake planning process continues. In fact it has become a more public phenomenon recently what with lawsuits, letters to the editor and presentations at the Inyo Board of Supervisors. It is time for an update. Last year, the City of Los Angeles filed suits in federal and state court over issues relating to the Lake. One of the initial understandings of the planning process was that no individual stakeholder gave up their right to pursue any course of conduct as a condition of participation in the panning discussion. Each stakeholder remained free to pursue whatever remedies it felt were appropriate whether that be to issue regulatory orders or raise issues for judicial determination.

Avocets on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Avocets on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

When Los Angeles filed its lawsuit, there was considerable concern about how this impacted the planning process. At the time, the planning committee was awaiting submission of a conceptual map from DWP which was basically a feasibility analysis as to whether it was possible to achieve a reduction of the amount of water used for dust control on the lake while, at the same time, continuing to maintain existing levels of wildlife and habitat value. That analysis was completed and demonstrated a positive result. The question remained, what could the planning committee do in the face of the pending litigation which involved several of its members. A meeting was held in January to attempt to answer that question. My hope was that it would be possible to disentangle issues upon which there was agreement from those whose determination was now in the hands of a court as a result of the suit. The members of the planning committee agreed that an attempt should be made to do this. The members also received the conceptual map and gave it positive reviews while, at the same time, sending the issue of groundwater use on the lake back for further discussion in light of significant disagreements voiced at the meeting. Lastly, but significantly, the department put forward a list of “must haves” outlining its needs as a part of a resolution of the issues posed at the Lake. Some of these were amenable to resolution by that panning group, but others would require changes in existing agreements, plans, orders or possibly statute putting them outside of the jurisdiction and power of the planning committee.

I think that this document sets out a vision for the future of the lake that has considerable environmental merit. But, iIn and of itself, it lack sufficient detail about how that vision is to be implemented to constitute a formal project description,. Still, I am pleased to see that the vision reflects a great deal of the nearly three years of discussions of the planning committee, particularly as it applies to habitat and wildlife. Someone had to take a first step of proposing a course of action and it is not altogether inappropriate in this situation that this be DWP since they hold the bulk of the responsibility for the circumstances which give rise to Owens Lake's many issues and for implementing solutions to these problems.

There are those who believe that this document represents an effort on the part of DWP to highjack or circumvent the Owens Lake Master Plan process. Given events of history, I can understand that this could be a valid concern. I hope that this is not the case and that this represents a starting point to continue and focus the collaborative work of the planning committee. Much of the concern over the “mater project” stems from the fact that DWP again sets out a list of “must haves.” Everyone who is a party to this process has must haves. Some have been more forward in raising them than others. That an individual stakeholder has such a list does not automatically mean they are entitled to prevail on those issues on their own terms, no matter who they are. Sorting out these very important and complicated issues is the task at hand.

I understand the concerns that the DWP has for trying to create an environment in which it can develop a plan to resolve the issues at Owens Lake. I understand that it would be much easier to do this if there was a degree of certainly as to the ultimate magnitude of the project, particularly in terms of possible future dust control requirements. In everyday life, it is hard to budget to buy Christmas presents for your children if you do not know how many there are. I also understand that provisions of law which apply to the lake must be followed. Environmental enforcement is my background, I get that. It is hard to argue that application of fresh water to control dust represents, in a legal sense, the most beneficial use of that water. However, that does not mean there is agreement as to the beneficial uses to which that water should be put if and when waterless dust control methods can be adopted to replace existing flooding. People have to be open to the validity of that question and knuckle down and figure it out. In that context, it is important to realize that no appreciable amount of water is used at the lake for the purpose of creating or sustaining habitat. The bird and wild life use at Owens Lake today is a byproduct of the application of water to control dust. We now want to be sure that there is a conscious effort made to be sure that whatever amount of water that will continue to be applied will sustain existing levels of habitat value and wildlife populations. To the human eye. the habitat may not look the same, be in the same place or be configured in the same way, but its value for birds and wildlife will be there. It is a false proposition to say that water has been or will be placed on the lakebed solely for habitat purposes.

Throughout this process Audubon California and Eastern Sierra Audubon have attempted to find ways to contribute to the positive resolution of the Owens Lake conundrum. To be sure, we have our own list of things which we feel need to be a part of that resolution so as to provide for the thousands of birds and other life forms which are dependent upon the lake. But we are not here to achieve that at the needless expense of other stakeholders, but as part of a vision which includes everyone's needs. I certainly do not think it is realistic to think that everyone's interest will be realized to the total extent possible, but I do believe there is an ultimate resolution which will protect and perhaps even enhance the core of those interests. Audubon continues to be in it for the long haul and welcomes the opportunity to participate in this challenging process. We are not done and I hope there will be an opportunity to report further developments in the future.

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Audubon Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden at Bishop Community Garden

The Eastern Sierra Audubon Society is sponsoring a garden plot in the demonstration part of the Bishop Community Garden located behind the Bishop City Park. This plot will be specially suited for Hummingbirds, Orioles, songbirds, and butterflies and will include a birdbath. We hope to educate the general public about what these lovely birds and butterflies need to be happy in a Bishop yard. The plot will feature flowering shrubs for shelter, fruiting shrubs for food, hummingbird favorite flowers for food, and butterfly favorites as well.

Audubon board members have already volunteered six valuable hours of labor. On April 15, Serena Dennis, Kathy Duvall, and Bill Mitchel joined Master gardeners Rosie Howard, Margaret Phelps, and Gerry Gabriel at the garden. We constructed paths around the Audubon area by removing grass, laying down heavy duty weed barrier cloth, and covering it with 2 to 3 inches of decomposed granite. We also prepared the soil inside the garden bed. It still needs to be mixed up and have more soil added.

In early June the irrigation will be complete and the soil will be ready for planting. If you are interested in helping with the initial planting please contact Rosie Howard at 760-873-7422 or email her at rosiehoward1@gmail.com. After the garden is established Audubon members will volunteer for approximately two hours per month to maintain the garden during the growing season, April through October. We'll work together during the cool morning hours and then go out for coffee or breakfast. Who knows, maybe will end up back at the garden just sitting around watching the birds love the fruits of our labor and love.

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Winter 2012-2013 Highlights for Inyo County

[Birds in bold type have a photo in the article (or linked) - click on any photo to see all in a slideshow]

Tundra Swan by Georg Schampusria

Tundra Swan enjoying the hot springs
Photo by Georg Schampusria

Another Winter season has passed and we are now watching spring migration, one of the most interesting and exciting seasons of the year. OK, each season has its own interesting and exciting avian events! Now that the book is closed on the Winter season, it is always interesting to review what happened with the perspective allowed by looking backwards.


Rough-legged Hawk, photo by Debby Parker

Rough-legged Hawk, photo by Debby Parker

Some interesting events are those that don't reach the norm or expected, based on more than a century's data. Many fewer Tundra Swans were reported this winter than normal but the single bird that splashed down among the bathers at the Warm Springs pond in Saline Valley 9 December, and photographed, was a new record for that area (REM). The only Barrow's Goldeneye reports were an adult male and young male at Tinemaha Reservoir 7 February with the adult remaining through 19 February (T&JH). The only Pacific Loon was at Tinemaha Reservoir 8 December (T&JH) and an unexpected Turkey Vulture was soaring over Big Pine 19 January (T&JH) and another 23 February (RSS). The White-tailed Kite found in fall lingered into early January when photographed (MWR, C&RH) and Rough-legged Hawks, which have been increasingly hard to find, were reported and photographed (DAP) from the north end of Inyo with a maximum of four birds in Round Valley 5 January (SLS).

Vermillion Flycatcher, Photo by Nancy Overholtz

Vermillion Flycatcher, "caught" by Nancy Overholtz last December in Bishop

Surprising were five Lesser Yellowlegs photographed at Owens Lake 31 December (AMS) and a Short-eared Owl at Round Valley 14-15 December (DJH, JLD). A male Vermilion Flycatcher, lingering from 28 November, continued at the Bishop County Club 15 December when he was joined by a female and photographed by many (C&RH, NJO, SKB, B&SS). Perhaps the find of the season was a "Solitary" Vireo in Bishop 15 December (KNN). The observer felt that it was an eastern Blue-headed Vireo although she said she could not positively eliminate a bright male Cassin's Vireo. There are just two Inyo records for Blue-headed Vireo, both in fall, and Cassin's Vireo is fairly common as a migrant. There are no winter records for either species so this is a remarkable event regardless of which species it was. A Pacific Wren was in Round Valley 15 December (JLD) and a Sage Thrasher photographed near Bishop 29 December (J&DP) both species recorded seldom in December.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Photo by Ali Sheehy

Lesser Yellowlegs, Owens Lake, Photo by Ali Sheehy

Black-and-white Warbler, photo by Debby Parker

Black-and-white Warbler, photo by Debby Parker

The Amazing Curve-billed Thrasher wintered at Starlite! First found 11 June 2012 by Rick Scott, the bird was photographed 25 February (KBS) and into spring photographed singing on 11 April 2013 (KHL, T&JH). The only longspur reported was a Chestnut-collared Longspur at Bishop 26 December (T&AD) and a Black-and-white Warbler was photographed at Bishop City Park 15 December (BSM, J&KW) reported through 30 December (C&RH, J&DP, and T&CD). The Lark Bunting, found mid November off Sunland in Bishop, was last reported and photographed 17 January (J&DP) and a Sooty Fox Sparrow was photographed in Birchim Canyon 14 December (J&DP). A Harris's Sparrow was recorded in Round Valley 15 December (JLD) and two birds were in Independence 6 February (JTZ) with one bird remaining to the following day (DJH). There was only one report of a "Pink-sided" Dark-eyed Junco at Millpond County Park, N of Bishop 15 December (JLD), a species that usually garners one to three reports a winter.

Lark Bunting, photo by Steve Brad

Lark Bunting, Photo by Steve Brad

So this recent Winter season was interesting and exciting! And we would have not known just how interesting and exciting were it not for a cadre of competent, cautious, and dedicated observers who write up their claims and submit them, often with images, to present as complete a snapshot view as possible on the avian history of this season in Inyo County. To the following we offer our deepest gratitude for their efforts in compiling a reliable avian database for this past Winter: Steve K. Brad, Tim, Angela, & Collin Dillingham, Jon L Dunn, John & Ros Gorham, Charity Hagen, Bartshe Miller, Todd Vogel, Debbie J. House, Chris & Rosie Howard, Bob E. Mauer, Jr., Kristie N. Nelson, Ron & Nancy Overholtz, Jim and Debby Parker, Rick & Karen Scott, Allison Sheehey, Bob & Susan Steele, James & Kay Wilson, Maggie Wolfe Riley, & Jerry Zatorski.

We solicit your help in making each seasonal report more complete so consider submitting reports of interesting and unusual sightings of rare or very rare species, along with documentation and/or images to tjheindel@gmail.com.

Curve-billed Thrasher, photo by Karen Scott

Curve-billed Thrasher, photo by Karen Scott

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Spring Lunch at Seventh Lake

The sun shines noon eyes upon the lake
A mountain yellow-legged frog clings to a rock in the small jewel pond nearby
Only his two eyes above water, spotted legs languidly floating behind his body
A fly lands just above him and sits unsuspectedly sunning
The frog's legs tense in against his body, front feet grip the rock
Legs push off while his tongue snaps out, drawing the fly into his mouth
In a second, the frog is as he was, loose-legged, just two eyes above water.
Sitting motionless upon the granite in our browns and greens
We slowly mesh with the landscape until only the mosquitoes, lunching too, know we are here.
Then the winged creatures emerge.
An Oriantha White-crowned Sparrow who has returned to this high heaven to breed does his,
HOP, HOP, HOP, PECK. HOP, HOP, HOP, PECK. A lunch of sedge and seed satisfies.
An Oriantha White-crowned Sparrow who has returned to this high heaven to breed does his,
HOP, HOP, HOP, PECK. HOP, HOP, HOP, PECK. A lunch of sedge and seed satisfies.
The Fox Sparrow gleans from the newly emerged willow catkins.
Mr. Wilson's Warbler flies over with a beautiful beakful of bugs for the young.
The Dusky Flycatcher sallies for midges and he too with his snapping beak is satisfied.
Two Ravens circle overhead, eyeing us eagerly, landing upon our rocks.
“Not my lunch, buddy,” I think as I take a bite.
Best peanut butter and jelly I ever ate.

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Getting the Lead Out

Golden Eagle with lead poisoning

Adult Golden Eagle with lead poisoning at ESWC
Unable to stand; Later died

In our last issue, we featured an article by Cindy Kamler of Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care (ESWC), "Birding from a Rehabber's Point of View," which shared the dark side of wildlife rehab - about the Golden Eagles killed from lead poisoning (including the one pictured in the article and at right) and electrocutions and poisonings, and other ways our modern ways of life hurt wildlife. Cindy exhorted us to "...help stem this epidemic. Learn more about these poisons and their unwanted, indiscriminate side. Share that information with friends, family and co-workers... Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care will be happy to offer information and help solve problems.

California Audubon is also working to address one of these issues. Audubon and other conservation groups have sponsored legislation to require non-lead ammunition for hunting in California."Assembly Bill 711 has the backing of several key members of the State Legislature, as well as a growing number of hunters and conservation, animal protection and public health organizations, including co-sponsors Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and The Humane Society of the United States." More selected excerpts from that article below:

"We've removed lead from our homes, our gas tanks, even our children's toy boxes, but we've failed to remove it from the lands that wildlife eat from, cattle graze on, or where rain can wash it into water ways that farms depend on," said the bill's author Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood. “The wide availability of affordable alternatives to lead ammunition makes AB 711 a common sense approach to protecting our precious wildlife and our families from the threat of lead poisoning."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibited the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991, and California passed a law requiring the use of non-lead ammunition within the range of the California condor in 2007. But the problem persists because the earlier laws are limited in scope. Lead ammunition is still allowed in the vast majority of California, and it only takes a tiny amount of lead to have a devastating impact."

"Lead poisoning causes a long and painful death for affected animals, including charismatic birds of prey," said Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. "Taking lead out of the environment is good science, and it's also just the right thing to do."

"Many hunters in California are already using non-lead ammunition because they have seen firsthand the risks to wildlife, and would rather be part of the solution," said Henry Coletto, a hunter who is also a retired game warden and life member of California Deer Association. "As demand increases for non-lead ammunition, costs will come down and even more options will become available."

Today I received this email with a link to an email to urge your Assemblymember to vote for this Bill. Click the link below to send your own letter, if you haven't already!

Tell the Assembly that you want toxic lead out of the environment

The California State Assembly soon will vote on important legislation aimed at removing toxic lead from the environment, and we need your help to make sure that this critical bill moves on. Assembly Bill 711 will require the use of nonlead ammunition for all hunting in California -- lead that gets into the wildlife food chain and onto people's dinner tables.

Send your email today.

Lead left behind in spent ammunition is one of the greatest sources of lead discharged to our lands and water. Scientists agree that this poses a significant risk to human health and the environment. Iconic birds such as the endangered California Condor, Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagle are all threatened by this source of lead. People who eat meat hunted with lead ammunition also consume this lead. Assembly Bill 711 makes all the more sense given that alternatives to lead ammunition are already widely available and in use by thousands and thousands of hunters.

Send your message now

Editor's Note: Learn more about Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care and how to help or donate on their website: eswildlifecare.org

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Field Trip Report: First COSA trip, March 9, 2013

Birds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Over 20 birders saw 30 species, despite cold and windy weather
for our first COSA bird walk and census in March

It was a windy and cold March morning for our first Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) walk and census on Bishop Paiute Tribal land. In spite of this, more than twenty participants showed up, and not only were the birders out in abundance, so were the birds! Thirty bird species were counted that day, and we are going to do it again each month, to get an idea of not only what species are present at the COSA, but how they are using it and when. Birds spotted that first day included the following species: Northern Flicker, Orange-crowned Warbler, Mourning Dove, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Common Raven, Bushtit, Downy Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, Mallard, Lesser Goldfinch, Great Blue Heron, European Starling, Red-tailed Hawk, Brewer's Blackbird, American Crow, Turkey Vulture, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Bewick's Wren, Black-billed Magpie, American Robin, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Say's Phoebe, Killdeer, Western Bluebird, House Finch, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cassin's Finch, Song Sparrow, and House Sparrow!

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Report: Owens Lake Spring Big Day, April 23, 2013

Birds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Birds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

The Owens Lake Spring Day on April 23, 2013 results are in! It is a staggering number. Many thanks to the volunteer birders who came from all over the state and also thanks to Debbie House and her crew of LADWP biologists. We put teams out on the lake all day and are very pleased with the results.

This total of 114,999 birds on the lake in one day is a new high, the previous high being last April of ~75,000.  Of significance is the shorebird  total - 63,524 of 20 different species. Of course the many other species observed are also important and diverse. Results vary from year to year for many reasons so the data over time will give us the most accurate view of this amazing resource. To see the count data for the last 6 years, from 2008-2013, click here (pdf).

Owens Lake certainly has national, if not hemispheric, importance once again as a wildlife stopover. It is Inyo County's largest wildlife location and has tremendous potential for attracting wildlife viewers in fall and spring each year. Good for all of Inyo County, but especially the southern Owens Valley.

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Spring Migration

The rush of wings could graze your cheek
each feather flushed with urgent need.
The drive to leave, the need to north
now fills the air with manic flight.

I wish to share the awesome urge
with all my race and races more,
each human bound with crystal sight
to save the earth so birds can fly.

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Remembering Bob Hudson

Bob Hudson and Judy Wickman returning from an Owens Lake bird census

Bob Hudson and Judy Wickman
returning from an Owens Lake bird census

Many of us here in the Owens Valley knew Bob from birding, hiking/biking or native plant gardening. His warm personality and interesting stories of working for the USFS as a fire lookout in Oregon and his many travels around the world on birding trips were wonderful. Bob attended the bird study group meetings at Tom and Jo Heindel’s home for many years and regularly showed up to buy native plants at the Bristlecone plant sales each September. He actively birded around Independence and found many rarely seen birds such as the vermillion flycatcher and rose-breasted grosbeak.

Bob grew up on a farm in the Santa Barbara area and attended UC Davis. For decades he was a fire lookout near John Day, Oregon during the summers and then would travel the world including the U.S. with friends on trips celebrating birds and natural history. He also began to establish his residency in the Owens Valley. Bob spent four weeks crossing the Sahara, including waking up one morning with the expedition covered with sand after a night time sand storm. He made multiple trips to South America – Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

But my strongest memories of Bob were when he joined Judy Wickman and me for uncountable trips out onto Owens Lake 20 or more years ago collecting the first modern bird census data. For years we combed every inch of Owens Lake to record its importance for birds, often returning home covered in mud. His love of birds and Nature was endless. Those data eventually led to the current efforts to create an Owens Lake Master Plan that will protect and enhance large swatches of habitat, control hazardous dust and conserve water.

Memories of Bob will travel with all of us in Eastern Sierra Audubon and the Bristlecone CNPS chapter as we go outside. Bob’s generous contribution to both groups is deeply felt. See you along the trail Bob, thank you.

Note: Robert Hudson remembered Eastern Sierra Audubon in his will. He also left sums to the Bristlecone Chapter CNPS, Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, Eastern California Museum, and Sierra Club. He was a retired USFS worker with an interest in plants and an avid birdwatcher.

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Taking Care of Business

Welcome New and Rejoining Members!

Rough-legged Hawk, photo by Debby Parker

Rough-legged Hawk, photo by Debby Parker

Thank you to the members who joined or renewed their membership! The list of folks is missing this issue as our membership chair is off getting married :) Congratulations Serena and Aaron! Specific acknowledgments to individuals joining or renewing as members will be included in our next issue.

We'd like to take a moment to promote Chapter Memberships: You may not be aware of this, but 100% of Chapter Membership dollars stays locally in the Eastern Sierra, supporting local education, youth, conservation, and programs. If you don't need Audubon Magazine, consider joining or renewing as a Chapter-only member, or better yet, as both Chapter and National! We do get support from National Audubon, as well, so any membership helps, and is money well-spent toward bird and wildlife conservation and education, and we thank you!

Your membership donations help keep this chapter alive. We get 8-10 renewing members a month, and from 3-5 new members. Your membership dues make it possible for us to offer and support great educational and recreational events throughout the eastern Sierra. Thank you!

If you would like to join and help support Eastern Sierra Audubon, there are two ways you can do it:

  1. Join as a National Audubon Society Member, designating ESAS as your chapter affiliation. Includes Audubon Magazine subscription. This is $20 for the first year, and goes up to $35 annually thereafter.
  2. Join as an ESAS Chapter-only Member for $20 per year. 100% of your donation stays here in the Eastern Sierra this way. Your chapter membership is a way to give back, and show your appreciation for all that ESAS does, and to help support our mission locally. Your membership helps pay for scholarships, programs, special events, education programs, research, and more. THANK YOU for your support!

Click Here for a membership form to join or renew!

Join National Audubon - your zip code will associate you with the chapter nearest you.

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How You Can Help ESAS: Four R’s (and a V)

Renew your membership (or join): The money from your membership dues is what helps us bring great evening programs, special events, - educational programs, trips, this website, and more to the community - we need your support!

Recycle at Manor Market and tell them to donate the money to Eastern Sierra Audubon.

Respect property and get permission to bird on private or restricted access property.

Repeat: Spread the word about programs and events, encourage others to join and participate.

Volunteer: Come to a board meeting and consider volunteering for an open board position! We welcome new board members, and we also always need volunteers for Birds in the Classroom, participants in bird counts, Bird-A-Thons, etc.

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Message from the Editor


Our next newsletter deadline will be August 15th for the September-October issue, and of course you are always welcome to send submissions for future newsletters and also the monthly email at any time.

We send out about one email each month to remind you of upcoming events - if you are not on our email list, please add yourself so you don’t miss anything!

If you send items to the newsletter editor by the last week of any month, we’ll make sure they get included in the next issue.

All of our content is supplied by our awesome members... if you have any ideas about articles you’d like to see, or better yet, if you have anything to share for newsletter publication, whether an article, a news item, update, correction, poem, essay, artwork, photo, field trip report, neat birding experience, letter, etc, please send it, along with any comments or suggestions, to the newsletter editor. We’d love to hear from you!

You may send items for inclusion in the newsletter at any time, but please send any timely items to arrive before the first of the month, so they can be included in the monthly email update.

Thanks for reading, and happy birding!

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About Eastern Sierra Audubon

Current Board Members


Main Calendar of Events

Calendar for May-August

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Have a Phainopepla Day!

In February of 2102, The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Red Rock Audubon Society, and Shoshone Village, California sponsored a community outreach project called "Have Phainopepla Day!" The project was designed to teach students from Death Valley Academy about the life histories, and migration mysteries of the Phainopepla. Classes were held indoors and outdoors for students from grade 5-12. Students also became familiar with basic birding, use of binoculars, video cameras, and video editing software. Students recorded Phainopepla and other birds, and also recorded the process of capturing and color banding Phainopeplas in the field.

Chris Mccreedy of PRBO (Point Reyes Bird Observatory) Conservation Sciences spent five days in Shoshone, CA. Chris taught students how to lure the birds into mist nests, hold, weigh, measure, and band the songbirds. Volunteers from Red Rock Audubon Society assisted in the process.

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