Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Eastern Sierra Audubon Society

Sierra Wave


Volume 32, Number 1
September-October, 2013

Sierra Wave Newsletter

Volume 31, Number 4
March-April, 2013



September 4th: Reptiles and Amphibians of the Great Basin

[Ed. Note: This was a great program, with 38 people attending. Thanks for finding your way to the new location!]

The Eastern Sierra, adjacent Nevada, and northern Mojave Desert have an amazing herpetofauna. Join us for a tour into the lives of the secretive Panamint alligator lizard as it climbs about talus slopes and wild grapevines hunting insects, the Amargosa toad which is endemic to only a ten mile stretch of ephemeral desert river, the latest research into the desert tortoise – which has been split into two species, and the history of fringe-toed lizard lineages through time during millions of years of shifting sands, pluvial lakes, and evolution. Also hear about efforts to conserve these species today.

Panamint Alligator Lizard

Panamint Alligator Lizard, Photo by Laura Cunningham

Laura Cunningham lives near Beatty, Nevada, on a property called the Atomic Toad Ranch, and is an expert on reptiles and amphibians. Cunningham has undertaken biological inventories for US Geological Survey - Biological Research Division in Death Valley National Park, field work for California Department of Fish and Game, as well as participated in university research on the reptiles and amphibians of the desert basins and mountain ranges. Laura did a fantastic program for us previously on her book, A State of Change. She is excited to come back, and it should be a great program.

Program is at 7pm, Wednesday, September 4th, at the conference room inside the USFS/BLM Offices at 351 Pacu Lane (off of West Line by the DMV) in Bishop - NOTE NEW VENUE:

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

Picnic and Tour of the COSA

Join us for a picnic and orientation to the COSA before the evening program on September 4th! We will eat (BYO picnic dinner) and socialize, followed by a short walkthrough of the area. Anyone who would like to volunteer to help lead one of the monthly COSA walks in the future is invited to take a quick tour. To lead a COSA walk, you do not need to be an expert, but just be responsible for keeping track of what is seen, and we'll show you how to do that!

Meet at the parking lot of the Forest Service building (see map above) at 5:15 pm. Enter the COSA through the gate at the north end of the lot. There will be tables in this area. Bring a picnic dinner, including your meal, beverage and plate and silverware etc. This is not a potluck, but people could meet together and plan their dinner among themselves. Please bring a chair. At 6:00 or so a representative of the Bishop Paiute Tribe will present information about the COSA and lead a short walk through the area. Bring your binoculars and catch a glimpse of a few of the area’s birds. The walk will conclude in time for people to be at the Forest Service in time for Laura Cunningham’s 7:00 pm presentation.

Upcoming ESAS Field Trips and Other Events

Bishop COSA, Bird Walk and Census, Saturday, September 14, 7:30am

[Ed. Note: COSA walks are held on the second Saturday of every month, unless otherwise indicated]

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, September 14th 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, October 12, 8:00am

[Ed. Note: COSA walks are held on the second Saturday of every month, unless otherwise indicated]

Our October Conservation Open Space Area (COSA) Bird Walk and Census will be held on Saturday, October 12th. 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 8:00am 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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Check back for additions and updates here and on the Field Trips page of the ESAS website.

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President’s Message

“The worst thing that can be said of a man
Is that he did not pay attention”

— William Meredith

I am pretty pleased with the view into our yard; it has worked out the way we hoped it would due to Roberta’s eye for design and knowledge about what to plant. That and the fact that my back held out through the end of the process. We have deliberately planted for birds and wildlife, so we get a lot of that. Residents like the Cooper’s Hawk and Great-horned and Screech Owls; migrants like the tanagers who are here in the spring for grape jelly and return in the fall for actual grapes, and families of quail and phoebes and finches all honor us with their presence.


Sunflowers in the COSA

As often as I can, I try to sit outside on our patio and watch the day give way to the night. In the last week, I have seen a pair of big ravens glide past me silently in the gathering dusk, heard the amazingly loud noise of our collection of hummingbirds watched my favorites, the nighthawks with their bright white wing bars, and the myriad bats whose flight simply makes my heart feel good. I just have to sit and it all comes to me: how wonderful that is.

In May, I was walking along the Benton ponds with a fourth grader. We had seen some stuff that I thought was pretty good: Ibises, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, a hawk or two. I was OK with this; he was sort of fidgety. We sat down on the ridge above the ponds. He said to me “why do you care so much about these birds?” I did not think I was being particularly demonstrative but when he spoke the secret was out. You cannot fool a fourth grader. I knew I couldn’t go to some explanation about ecological integrity or the like. “Because they can fly,” I said, thinking of finding thermals to soar along the ridges of the Sierra, or hovering like a hummingbird at a tiny red blossom, or what it would be like to navigate the valley as a part of a flock of pelicans. “I know they can fly,” he said, “they’re birds.” So it is. I could have talked about wing designs, hollow bones, evolution of winged things, but the bottom line is “it’s magic.” We sat for a while and then watched a group of ibis lift off the pond and spiral into the sky. “It’s pretty neat,” he said. My work here was done.

Jack Laws talks about undergoing a transformation in the process of stopping and “really looking.” A door opens to my heart and I can feel that all of this – birds, plants, sky water, my looking and knowing I am looking and deciding what I am going to do in response to what I see – all of it is miraculous. I am the kind of person that needs frequent reminders of this. The birds in my yard are the messengers, if I will only pause to receive them.

As Audubon members, we are the magic gatekeepers and can part the curtains on an amazing story; we translate for people. To be an Audubon member is not just to say, these birds are nice – lots of people see that. We are joined collectively to work to try to help people understand that there is something of great importance and value embodied in these creatures. Whether it is a conversation with a friend or neighbor about the birds in their yard; helping school children experience the electricity that is a goldfinch seen through binoculars, or slogging through meeting after meeting to try to protect habitat, we all have an opportunity to open eyes, especially our own. I am grateful for each and every Eastern Sierra Audubon member’s commitment to that fourth grader and fourth graders to come. The mission of Audubon is to protect birds and their habitat; it is a wonderful byproduct that doing so enriches my soul and my life and those of all the people we touch.

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Eastern Sierra Audubon Is Now A Tax-exempt Non-Profit

There has been a significant change in status at Eastern Sierra Audubon. The chapter has incorporated as a non-profit and has been awarded tax exempt status under IRS section 501(c)(3). We are awaiting a similar ruling from the California Franchise Tax Board. The most significant effect of this change centers contributions and donations to the chapter. These are now tax exempt. This affords a benefit to those who so generously support ESAS whether through the annual bird-a-thon, legacy donations or other gifts. It also enables the chapter to seek funding from other non-profit, foundation or governmental sources. We had previously secured funding to support PRBO Science in its gull research at Mono Lake. Getting that done was complicated by the fact that, at that time, we did not have 501(c)(3) status. There are many research efforts that go on here in our part of the world and the chapter sees a lot of value in being able to help secure the funding necessary to keep them going forward. In addition, we would like look into developing interpretive information and projects in locations like the Bishop Paiute COSA, Bishop City Park, Owens Lake and other locations. Our new status will help us in those endeavors.


Whimbrel on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

This change does not have a lot of direct impact on ESAS members. The biggest change concerns the election of the board of directors and officers. In the past members voted to elect these persons. However, there was a continual problem obtaining enough of a turn-out at the June meeting to constitute a quorum under the former rules of operation. This was not as significant an issue when the chapter was simply an association, but would be problematic in a corporate situation. The corporate bylaws provide that members of the board will be elected by the board as will officers. Following the initial incorporation, the existing board members were named to the board by the incorporators to insure continuity in the transition. This does not mean that members have no role in determining the composition of the board or who serves as an officer. What it does mean is that persons who wish to suggest the name of a potential board members or volunteer for service need to contact a board member with that information.

Our new status does not mean a change in the character of the operations of the chapter. The chapter does need money to operate. Binoculars break and we need some more so we can work with more schools throughout the two counties we serve (ESAS is the only multi-county chapter in California. We need to continue to support deserving graduating high school seniors through the Eastern Sierra Audubon scholarships. We continue to work with the Bishop Paiute Tribe to develop outdoor education opportunities at the COSA area. We do want to develop continue and distribute interpretative materials to help promote the mission of Audubon (our Birding Trails Map was named one of the forty best birding trails guides in the United States by National Audubon). We look forward to finding new and creative ways to work with our community in support of birds and their habitat.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin's Gull on Owens Lake, Photo by Chris Howard

We are sustained in all this through chapter memberships and the kind donations of members as well as the proceeds from events such as the yard sale and bird-a-thon. We will seek special funding for special projects and our new status gives us greater flexibility and eligibility for grant support in these endeavors. However we will not be sending out monthly solicitations for funds or anything of that nature. ESAS has learned to function and function well on a small annual budget. We are able to do this because of the amazing willingness of members to volunteer to do the many things that keep things running. That has not changed. We have a continual need for persons to come forth with their particular ideas and passions within the Audubon mission.

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Spring 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]

Merlin, photo by Debby Parker

Merlin, photo by Debby Parker

Spring 2013 provided a nice potpourri of rare and casual bird species as well as new records for more common species. While each season brings unexpected birds to the Eastern Sierra, Spring is always looked forward to, not only for a needed break from a cold winter's embrace. This is the season when birders are attuned to songs and calls, different from our familiar feathered friends, in hopes that the one they are chasing is a vagrant…a species not expected here. This year did not disappoint!

A Pacific Loon was photographed at Owens Lake 18 May (SLS) for only the third spring record ever for Inyo County and a very late Merlin was photographed at Bishop Sewage Ponds 24–25 April (J&DP). Two adult Sanderlings, very unusual in Spring, were seen at Owens Lake 21 May (DJH) and a Mew Gull, only the third record in Inyo County, was photographed at Bishop City Park 26–28 March (C&RH, J&DP, SLS). It actually was found on the 25th although no documentation was received that day by the original observer.

Mew Gull, photo by Chris Howard

Mew Gull, photo by Chris Howard

California Gulls are not unusual finds in the Eastern Sierra but on 23 April, during an Owens Lake Big Day count, the most individuals ever documented for Inyo County were 27,545 as well as 27 Franklin's Gulls, way more than the one or two usually recorded. Multiple party surveys provide a whole new perspective on the numbers of species in the county at one time, an endeavor impossible with just one party.

Although regular in the White Mountains, Broad-tailed Hummingbird is rare on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada, thus one photographed at South Lake 2 June (C&RH) was a pleasant surprise. A Plumbeous Vireo, a regular migrant and summer breeder in Inyo County, was photographed and well documented at Stovepipe Wells on 20 April (C&RH) for the earliest ever Spring arrival in our area and a Red-eyed Vireo was photographed in Bishop 1 June (C&RH).

Red-eyed Vireo, Photo by Chris Howard

Red-eyed Vireo, Bishop, photo by Chris Howard

The famous Curve-billed Thrasher is striving to become an Inyo County Resident! On 11 June, Rick and Karen Scott, the original finders, celebrated the one-year anniversary by walking Starlite until they found the bird and photographed it – three hundred and sixty-five days after their first image!

As hoped for, many warblers from The East had gyroscopic malfunctions and ended up in Inyo County. An Ovenbird and a Northern Waterthrush were at Wildrose Ranger Station 20 May (ADeM). A Tennessee Warbler was at Birchim Canyon 27 May (C&RH) and a Virginia's Warbler was at Pine Creek 31 May (J&DP). A Black-and-white Warbler, and photographed Tennessee and Blackpoll Warblers were at Scotty's Castle 31 May (DVP, LBH).

Lark Bunting, photo by Steve Brad

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, photo by Russell Kokx

Four Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (SLS, ADeM, LBH & DVP, RDK) and four Indigo Buntings (C&RH, PJM, DVP) added their vibrance to the spring as well as a male Baltimore Oriole who hung out in Big Pine posing for pictures 6–8 May (authors). Finally, two Lawrence's Goldfinches were seen with a male in Big Pine 13–20 March (T&JH) and another male in Bishop 1 May (RCH) and the only Evening Grosbeak was a female photographed in Bishop 13 May (C&RH).

More and more birders are using the digital age to validate their claims, insuring that there is evidence to substantiate their sighting. Any image, regardless of quality, that provides unequivocal characteristics of the bird that insure its conclusive identity, is an A+ image. Some may not qualify for a magazine cover, but they are far more important than that. Our gratitude to the following for making the effort to insure that their sightings qualify as county records: Al DeMartini (ADeM), Chris & Rosie Howard (C&RH, RCH), Debbie House (DJH), David Vander Pluym (DVP), Jim & Debby Parker (J&DP), Lauren Harter (LBH), Peter Metropolis (PJM), Russell Kokx (RDK), Susan Steele (SLS).

Baltimore Oriole, photo by Jo Heindel

Baltimore Oriole, photo by Jo Heindel

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. Information on which birds need extra documentation, and how and when to submit, is on our Inyo Bird Checklist page.

Tom and Jo Heindel have contributed a vast amount of their knowledge to the Wave Newsletter over the years (from 1993 on!). Those articles have been archived for reference, here: Heindel's articles and season highlights.

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May's End

Filling feeders day by day
Noisy leaves above, goldfinches
Not so patient

Well it’s Black-chinned season too
So sugar water finds toes
When hands reach up to hook the fresh batch

Back to the tubs for sunflower seed
As, after all, House Finches are nesting
And who can resist a mom
Not I

Feeder filling
Time it takes

The zip of siskins
Psychedelic flamed crest of Cassin’s Finch
And Costa’s gorget flare

Routine transformed into dance!

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Marigolds in Fall

I love to look out the kitchen window at dusk.
You are bright beyond the failing light that finds you.
Your fireworks explode electric orange against your deep green leaves.
Hummingbirds probe your profusion and hunt for hidden treasure.
How can a bee penetrate your petals to pollinate you?
Yet I know they do because every fall after first frost I till your spent fertile blooms back into the soil.
In the spring, there you are again, two reddish stemmed dicotyledons bright and smiling with the promise of keeping the squash bugs at bay.
Thank you for your vigilance and persistence,
But most of all thank you for your beauty.

Orangeluscious (Marigolds)

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Audubon Bird and Butterfly Garden

Rosie demonstrating planting bird and butterfly plants

Eastern Sierra Audubon is sponsoring a pollinator paradise in one of the demonstration plots in the Bishop Community Garden. Last May, ESAS members Kathy Duvall, Rosie Howard, Serena Johnson, and Bill Mitchel worked with the Master Gardeners of Inyo and Mono Counties to ready the plot for planting. Many hands made light the tasks of removing grass and weeds, filling the plot with good soil, and leveling pathways and covering them with weedcloth and decomposed granite. After conducting research, plants were purchased locally with a generous donation from ESAS. The Parkers and Howards donated plants that hummingbirds love from their home gardens. Indeed, the pink penstemon from the Parker's garden is the preferred plant by Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Spend a few minutes sitting at the picnic tables in the shade of the new pergola and watch the territorial battles wage!

Many Master Gardeners came to help!

On June 24, eight Master Gardeners and two ESAS members held an educational workshop at the outdoor classroom in the garden. Thirty-five interested folks from the community attended and learned the needs of resident and migrant birds, pollinators, and plants. After a half hour of instruction, and many questions and answers, the real fun began. Wielding their trusty shovels, the Master Gardeners demonstrated best practices for planting. In the next half hour, twenty-six plants were in the ground! Because the Native Plant Society is sponsoring a native plant area next to Audubon's, we chose non-invasive, nutrient rich plants to provide a variety of food sources in the demonstration area.

Plant lists from the workshop are available here for download.

Here are some recommendations paraphrased from the UC Davis Arboretum Terrace website:

Home gardeners can create a refuge for birds and insects making our homes their home too. It’s hard for animals to make a living when their food sources and shelter disappear. Choosing plants that animals use for food and shelter and providing a water source in the garden helps them thrive. If we make our gardens good homes for the inhabitants of the natural world, in return insects and birds will pollinate our plants and bring our gardens to life with sound and motion.

Make your garden a feast. Your garden can be a “pollinator’s buffet” where bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies can cruise your flower beds and sample the tasty pollen and nectar from your garden plants.

BUTTERFLIES are active during the day, can see some color but have a poor sense of smell. They prefer brightly colored daytime bloomers with landing platforms where they can rest while drinking nectar through their long mouth parts.

BEES see all the colors we do, except red, and so are likely to pollinate yellow and blue flowers. Bee-pollinated flowers like sage or lavender often smell good to people.

HUMMINGBIRDS fly during the day, have keen sight but a poor sense of smell. Hummingbird flowers are often red or orange, are tubular in shape to fit long, slender beaks, and produce copious amounts of nectar.

The Audubon Bird Butterfly garden is located in the Bishop Community Garden behind the Bishop City Park south of the Senior Center. It's a great place to have lunch in the shade. Current lunch entertainment includes Orange-crowned Warblers, Lesser Goldfinches, Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, House Finches, butterflies, and occasional Black Phoebes and Spotted Towhees. Coming attractions include more fall migrants as migration gets into full swing. Hope to see you out there.

Rosie demonstrating planting bird and butterfly plants

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First-Time Species at Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care

Baby hummingbirds blown out of their nest by a leafblower!

These three baby hummingbirds were apparently blown out of the same nest by a leaf blower!

One of the benefits of working in wildlife rehabilitation is the opportunity to see our native wildlife—birds, mammals and reptiles—up close and personal. They come to us for a variety of reasons, some natural, most human-related. Adults are hit by cars, caught by cats or dogs, tangled in fishing line, poisoned and shot, electrocuted, emaciated. Babies often arrive uninjured; nests blow, fall or are cut down, the mother is found dead or disappears, a nestling falls or is bumped out.

Most babies are charming and cute, whether mammal, avian or human. Rehabbers quickly fall under the spell of two tiny pin-feathered hummingbirds snugged in their soft nest. A hummingbird-sized catheter, attached to a 1 cc syringe filled with special hummer formula (no sugar water!), must be aimed carefully into the small orange-lined mouths. Twenty minutes later, we feed them again and again throughout the long summer day from dawn until dusk. Who can resist the soft-furred dumpling of a baby cottontail with his dark watchful eyes? He must be handled slowly and gently because he might startle and die—his heart stopping—a mechanism of mercy for these creatures who are prey to almost every predator, furred, feathered and two-legged.

Pygmy Nuthatch getting a snack

Pygmy Nuthatch getting fed a mealworm

This season brought two never-before seen babies to Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care: a Pygmy Nuthatch and a Mink. The tiny nestling Nuthatch was found at Shady Rest Campground in Mammoth; some kids were playing catch with her! The 3-week-old Mink, eyes closed, was found on an empty boat docked at Crowley Lake Marina.

Pygmy Nuthatches are one of the few songbirds in North America that have nest helpers; our little one had a lot of human helpers. They live and nest in large extended family groups. In cold weather, they nest in cavities, piling lots of nuthatches in the same hole (one researcher counted 100!).This bundle of downy feathers kept up an almost constant sweet repertoire of tweets, twitters and cheeps, gaped readily, and grew rapidly. She has been eating completely on her own—mealworms and waxworms mostly—and just moved into a larger cage where she can condition for release.

Baby Mink

Baby Mink nursing - eyes are still closed!

In the late spring a “ferret” was trapped at Bishop City Park and brought to us. Only after some research did we determine that this graceful and ferocious chocolate-brown creature was a Mink. When the “baby weasel” arrived from Crowley, we recognized it immediately as a baby Mink. (Mink are native to most of North America. They belong to the Mustelid family along with badgers, wolverine, fisher, pine marten, river otters, skunks, black-footed ferrets, and weasels.)

Unlike the Nuthatch, the baby Mink had a single foster “mom” to prevent habituation. He was an eager eater and, as he neared 5 weeks in age, became very active; his eyes opened a few days later. In the wild, Mink are semi-aquatic and hunt in the water and on land. Prey consists of fish, crayfish, aquatic and land insects, lizards, cottontails, birds and eggs, and more. He has just moved into a large pen with a large pool and willow, tules, and tree roots and branches to climb and hide in. Everyone is enamored of this graceful and playful animal but we get only a few glimpses through peepholes in order to keep him wild.

What a treat it is for all of us to become so intimately acquainted with these two beings. They are very different from one another but both are elusive. The Nuthatch is often heard high in the pines but not so easily seen. The mostly-nocturnal Mink is fairly common near waterways, lakes and ponds, but rarely spotted. Having served as parents and helpers, we find ourselves tuned in to their presence in a new and special way.

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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Bishop Paiute Tribe Conservation Open Space Area (COSA)
Summer Updates

With the seasons, the COSA has changed dramatically from bare winter trees and brown grass to a jungle of spring green buzzing with insects and activity, and has now settled into its late summer look of sunflowers, grasses heavy with seeds, and goldfinches.

COSA Pupfish Pond

A lot has gone on this summer on the Tribe’s 25 acre conservation area. Eastern Sierra Audubon has continued the monthly Bird Walk and Census on the second Saturday of every month. People brand new to the Chapter have showed up and the place has been packed with amazing birds. Some highlights were the Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Greater Yellowlegs, and an Osprey with a fish! For a complete list of birds seen on the COSA this season so far, click here. Click here for more information on the monthly Bird Walk and Census.

Volunteers at the Cosa

For the Tribe’s Environmental Management Office, restoring native vegetation and discouraging invasive plant species on the COSA has been a summer-long project that will continue well into the future. One exciting strategy has been solarizing the soil around the Pupfish Pond. This area was infested with an invasive species called perennial pepperweed at the beginning of the summer. The IMACA Youth Conservation Corps crew spent three days on the COSA putting down clear plastic that will cook the ground and kill weeds and seeds. The crew also collected native creeping wild rye seeds, pulled invasive sweetclover and bull thistle, and helped keep pond weeds under control. In the fall, the plastic will be removed and the area will be planted with native wildflowers and grasses.

IMACA Youth pulling pond weeds at the COSA

Volunteers from the Bishop Paiute Tribe, US Forest Service, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, CA Fish & Wildlife, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, and the general public came out to help pull weeds, collect native seeds, clear brush, and maintain the solarization plastic during COSA Stewardship Days. These open volunteer days were held every other Friday morning through the summer and will continue into the fall. It is very exciting to see many members of the community take an interest in this beautiful area. For more information and to volunteer, contact Hillary Behr at (760) 873- 3584.

Students journaling at the COSA

If you were walking on the paths this spring and summer, you might have seen kids hiding in the bushes, looking at animal tracks, journaling, or learning to use binoculars. The Tribe’s Environmental Management Office (EMO) helped with Birds in the Classroom this spring and students practiced birding right outside their school’s back door. The EMO also invited students from the Tribal Ed Center to visit the COSA throughout three weeks of their summer program. The COSA is a fabulous place for environmental education and for people of all ages to connect to nature. As the EMO continues to work with the Tribal Ed Center and Bishop Schools, we hope to make the COSA an easy and accessible place to take students to play and learn, as well as partner to design lasting and exciting nature programs and curriculum. One such program is the upcoming “Exploring a Wetland,” a partnership between many organizations to host a day of fun nature activities on the COSA for all of the Bishop 3rd Grade classes.

Bishop 3rd Grade Students learning about birds in the COSA

So, if you haven’t already, come check out the COSA! You can enter behind the Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center or behind the Forest Service/BLM Building. Bring your kids or grandkids and your binoculars and wander around mowed paths under the willows. Visitors from the public are welcomed during daylight hours. And you could pick up trash and pull some weeds while you’re at it!

A good time to get a quick orientation to the COSA will be on September 4th, before the Audubon Program on Reptiles and Amphibians of the Great Basin, which will be at the USFS/BLM Building Conference room - right near the trailhead! Come out at 5:15 and bring a picnic dinner if you like - Hillary will be giving a brief tour/orientation to the COSA around 6pm. See the article for more details!

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Field Trip Report: Mammoth Creek Birding Walk, May 11, 2013

The May 11 (International Migratory Bird Day!) Mammoth Creek Birding Walk had 10 experienced birders eagerly seeking out and identifying birds and their sounds, as well as native flowers. Since April, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers had been along Mammoth Creek, but on this day participants found one Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a pair of nesting Yellow-rumped Warblers. Eastern Sierra Audubon postings reported 4/27 seeing the long distance migratory Wilson's and Yellow Warblers in Bishop. Then by May 1, flocks of Wilson's Warblers appeared on Mammoth Creek. Both Warblers were seen for the summer throughout the creek, the week after the walk. Around Mammoth Museum, Pygmy Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees had early fledglings. The migratory Cliff Swallows (returning from South America) were doing their acrobatic flying above the creek, and participants pointed out a Red-tailed Hawk soaring along the edge of the meadow. The Bushtits, Mountain Bluebirds, and Red-breasted Sapsuckers eluded us this day, but a female Northern Flicker gave us a highlight, flying over us into her cavity nest.

The Mammoth Creek riparian corridor/recreation area next to town allowed us to see some of the diversity of migratory and year-round birds of this region from an easy walk along the creek. Thank you to Eastern Sierra Audubon Society for this opportunity to share the enthusiasm of birding with others.

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

Birds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather

Birds on Owens Lake, Photo by Michael Prather



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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Owens Lake in the News

All sorts of news items relating to Owens Lake...

BirdNote podcasts by Pete about Owens Lake

Dustbuster article about Mike in Audubon Magazine

Report on Owens Lake Field Trip (do a slideshow "report"?)

FALL big day report??

Add Mike's December program to future programs with "save the date"

Also, DUTCHER AWARDS to Mike and Pete!!

Ask for COSA Volunteers!!

Black-necked Stilts at Owens Lake, Photo by Debby Parker

Black-necked Stilts at Owens Lake, Photo by Debby Parker

Maybe make that the ending photo?


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Audubon Scholarships

Student accepting scholarship

Report of scholarship winners!! With their essays!!

This is such a full newsletter - maybe wait for next issue?


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Check Out the Beautiful New ESAS Tee Shirts!

New Tee Shirts with New Logo!

magpie tee shirt

We now have a selection of new teeshirts with our beautiful new Black-billed Magpie Logo, as seen at right. Tee shirts are available at Spellbinder Books on Main Street in Bishop, and come in an assortment of sizes and colors. Our new logo was designed by Logan Parsons, who also designed the Mono Lake Committee logo. We are quite pleased with the Black-billed Magpie, Mount Tom, and the shape of the Magpie which represents the Sierra wave. Check out all the beautiful tee shirt colors available below! We also have some tanks and four colors in long-sleeved tees.

Audubon Tee Shirts

Look at all those great colors!

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Taking Care of Business

Welcome New and Rejoining Members!

Blackpoll Warbler, photo by David Vander Pluym

Blackpoll Warbler, photo by David Vander Pluym

Thank you to the members who joined or renewed their membership! The following members joined or renewed their memberships in Eastern Sierra Audubon between May and August:

Chapter Members:

Walt & Sandy Bates, Jon Becknell, Hillary Behr, Christine Hanley, Gail Hays, Scott Hetzler, Carolyn Honer, Tom and Julie Anne Hopkins, Serena & Aaron Johnson, Jane Kenyon, Thomas Metivier, Elizabeth Quinn, Wangdowa Sherpa, Bob & Gayle Speckels, and Cedrik & Collette Zemitis

National Audubon Members:

Vincent Billeci, Ms. Patricia Black, Ms. Lynne Bunn, Ms. Sylvia Colton, N. L. Fogelstrom, David German, Liliane Gersh, C. L. Grace, Greg Harris, Janet Insua, Ann Leithliter, Larry Nahm, Derik Olson, Nancy Overholtz, Myriam Ruland, Jerry Rupp, Nick Sprague, Todd Vogel, Bryce & Wilma Wheeler, Danielle White and Jerry Zatorski.

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 September-October


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Final Shot - Evolution of Communication over Conflict among Gulls

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