Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Eastern Sierra Audubon Society

Sierra Wave

Volume 34, Number 1
September-October, 2015

Sierra Wave Newsletter

Volume 31, Number 4
March-April, 2013



Birds of the Sierra Nevada, with Ed Pandolfino

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at the BLM Conference room in Bishop
Book-signing following the presentation

Join Eastern Sierra Audubon in welcoming Ed Pandolfino, co-author of Birds of the Sierra Nevada, for our October general meeting and evening program!

Ed will take us on a virtual trip across the range from the oak savanna in the west, through serene conifer forests of the west side, up into the majestic alpine regions, and down the steep eastern escarpment to the pinyon/juniper woodlands and open steppes of the Great Basin. Along the way we'll see and hear the stunning diversity of birds that make the Sierra their home. We'll learn about how they use the various habitats in the Sierra and about which birds are in decline and which are expanding and increasing. We'll also address some mysteries surrounding some of those species and discuss how visitors to the Sierra can help to solve them.

Ed Pandolfino is former President of Western Field Ornithologists, a Regional Editor for Northern California for North American Birds, and has published dozens of articles on status and distribution of western birds. He co-authored, with Ted Beedy, Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, illustrated by Keith Hansen and published by U.C. Press in May 2013.

Birds of the Sierra Nevada, cover

Birds of the Sierra Nevada, Cover

Ed spent most of his early life on the move, living in many different states and countries and attending 13 different schools between first grade and high school. His first exposure to the Sierra came as a teenager, hunting, fishing, and backpacking, but somehow remaining essentially unaware of the birds. After a checkered and inconsistent college experience that included dropping-out and touring Europe as a drummer for a Rock & Roll band, Ed finally settled down and earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Washington State University. He spent over twenty years working in various management positions in the medical device industry.

After an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with a Spotted Towhee (then Rufous-sided Towhee), Ed's relationship with birds transformed instantaneously from oblivious to obsessed. Since retiring in 1999 he has devoted his life to birds, working on habitat conservation and avian research. In addition to co-authoring Birds of the Sierra Nevada: Their Natural History, Status, and Distribution, Ed is former president of Western Field Ornithologists and is one of the Regional Editors for North American Birds for Northern California. In the past several years, he has rediscovered his "inner scientist," and has published dozens of papers on status and distribution of western birds. He lives in Sacramento with his wife, writer Kathleen Lynch.

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

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Upcoming ESAS Field Trips and Other Events

Eastern Sierra Audubon Event Monthly Bishop Paiute Tribe COSA, Bird Walk and Census Dates:

  • Saturday, September 12, 7:30am
  • Saturday, October 10, 8:30am

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

Conservation Open Space Area in Bishop

Spring has sprung in the COSA!

Unless otherwise indicated, our COSA bird walks will all be the second Saturday of the month, except (sometimes) for December, because we will have it coincide with the Christmas Bird Count. During June, July, August, and September they will start at 7:30 instead of 8:30. Watch the monthly email update, this field trips page, or local media for confirmation, updates on leader(s) and meeting time. Or, contact Hillary (below), or if you just show up at 8 or so, you'll probably find us!

The 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. For more information, read this article on the COSA in the March-April 2013 Sierra Wave newsletter. There have been surprises every month so far - come find out what new birds we'll see next time - maybe you'll add toour bird list on e-Bird!

All are welcome - these walks are for birders of ALL LEVELS, beginners included! We will bring extra binoculars and field guides to share. If you'd like to print out a bird checklist, with blanks for adding your own discoveries, you can download that here: COSA Bird Checklist trifold (pdf)

Please meet at 7:30am in June-September, or 8:30am during October-May at the BLM/Forest Service Building on West Line Street in Bishop. Contact Hillary Behr for more information, or if you are interested in leading a future monthly walk: hillarybehr@yahoo.com.

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Birding the Valley, Northern Mono County, September 18-19

Birding the Valley

Friday September 18th
Arrive early and have discounted meals at local participating Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce members' locations

Saturday September 19th
7-8 am Complimentary breakfast and check in at Walker Country Store deli
8am Leave for birding in the Sonora Pass with Paul McFarland
12-1 check in for hiking (location to be determined)
1pm  Leave for hiking with local geologist Gary Clifton
5pm participant discounted dinner specials at local restaurants

Sunday September 20th
7-8 Complimentary breakfast and check in at Sweetwater Coffee Shoppe
8am Leave for birding in Antelope Valley with Elena Espinosa
12-1 check in for hiking (location to be determined)
1pm Leave for hiking with local geologist Katy Buell
5pm participant discounted dinner specials at local restaurants

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Sierra to Sea

Protect Meadows in the Sierra:
Join Us on September 30 for the Sierra to Sea Meadow Monitoring Project

YOU can be a citizen scientist: assess meadow health, report wildlife sightings, and measure greenhouse gases.

WATER is key: As California faces its fourth straight year in severe drought, it is imperative to assess water resources.

TOGETHER our research will help shape the future of the 17,000 meadows in the Sierra Nevada

This one-day event trains volunteers to survey meadows for biodiversity and suitability for restoration. The data you collect will be used by scientists at the University of California, Merced and South Yuba Citizens League to understand the impact of climate change and inform the management of this critical habitat.

Date Partner Organization Rendezvous Location Meadow
Saturday, Sept 26 Friends of the Inyo Rock Creek Lodge, 85 Rock Creek Rd Convict Lake
Wednesday, Sept 30 Eastern Sierra Audubon Friends of the Inyo HQ, 819 N. Barlow Ln, Bishop Glass Creek


Email Jules Winters, jwinters@earthwatch.org to sign up or if you have any questions.

Events are 10am – 3pm

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Sage-Grouse Habitat Improvement: Saturday, October 3, Restoration Planting Field Day. Leaders: Julie Anne Hopkins and Martin Oliver

Join in again this year, on Saturday, October 3, to team up with BLM Botanist Martin Oliver for a bitterbrush planting in the footprint of the Indian Fire—south of Mono Lake in Mono County. This project will help to restore native plants to the area that was burned in 2012, thereby improving habitat for Sage-Grouse and other wildlife. Martin has several hundred young bitterbrush to be placed and planted. Join in on this opportunity to continuing helping with this post-fire Bi-state Greater Sage-Grouse habitat restoration project.

Prepare for diverse weather conditions: sunblock, layered clothing, boots, and sun hat Bring your lunch, water and any other creature comforts. Trip leaders will bring treats and extra water. We should be finished by 2 – 3 PM.
Meet at the junction of Hwy 120 EAST and Hwy 395 (turn-off to South Tufa) at 9:30 AM. There at the 120 east junction there is a little mining memorial structure and room for a number of vehicles.
Contact: Julie Anne Hopkins (831) 566-6012 or Martin Oliver, BLM Botanist, at (760) 872-5035.

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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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Outgoing President's Message

“All things Lack the capacity to remain the same”

— Dalai Lama

As most of you probably know, my time as President of Eastern Sierra Audubon has come to a close.

One of the best aspects of the position has been the chance to send out some thoughts to all of the valued members of the chapter with each edition of the newsletter. I have thought about this message for a long time and have come no closer to figuring out an appropriate approach; however, time deadlines rise up in the road, so here we go. If there was space to do it, I would individually call out each person who has inspired, lent their enthusiasm, contributed valuable ideas, volunteered, carried a load, able performed a task vital to the chapter, corrected me, informed me and gone above and beyond on behalf of the chapter during these past years. To me, it is an amazing thing for there to be such a remarkable organization within this remarkable eastern Sierra community. I have been proud to have had the opportunity to hitch my wagon to the star which is Audubon.

I’d like to think that ESAS has been involved in some significant things during this time. In large part that comes with the responsibility of being an Audubon chapter. I have been reminded again and again of the great respect which people accord to Audubon as an organization. It is seen as productive, reasonable, committed for the long term, and developing its positions and programs using science-based analysis. Audubon is also recognized for its active commitment to stewardship, public engagement and connecting young people to the natural world. This reputation is both a challenge and a guide, and everyone with whom I have had the privilege to work in ESAS has been true to the Audubon way.

This time as president has been transformative for me. I have learned a lot about myself (my lack of patience is appalling), about the process of working with disparate groups and individuals, the art of soliciting help and support and about the place where I live. Mostly, an awareness of birds has worked its way deep into my life. Today, I was fishing up in the Bishop Pass area. Fishing, of course, is just a reason to be outside and thankfully for me, trout live in beautiful places. I visit this particular place two or three times a month. I have come to note the comings and goings of the seasonal birds, their songs and activities. Although it is a sort of background to what I am doing, I am still pleased to note the presence of mountain chickadees or the call of a woodpecker, spring courting and nesting and the late season fueling up for the migration to come. All of this was going on long before I noticed it; I have brought nothing to this dance, but I am far richer since my Audubon teachers (thank you Debby Parker, Santiago and, of course, James) brought it into my consciousness.

The beauty of things is that stewarding and protecting the natural world, participation with Audubon enriches the individual. Working on Owens Lake has made me a better person. I surely did not know that would happen; that was not the purpose of getting involved, but it is the happy result. For that, I am grateful to you all for the opportunity you accorded me. I will not be going anywhere far away and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you fine people. "Hope is the thing with feathers."

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Fall 2015 - Are you Ready?

The photos in this article comprise a "Get Ready" quiz of a few of the species that will be spending the winter in the Eastern Sierra. Will you be ready to identify them when they put you on their "birders-I've-seen-this-winter" list? Click on the images for their proper identification.

Immature Merlin, photo by Tom Heindel

Do you recognize this bird?
Test your skills and then click the image for the answer!

Are you ready? Ready for the change that is already underway? We are talking about the birds we have been watching all summer. Many of them are neo-tropical migrants and some are already on their way south where they will find sufficient food and cover and temperatures more to their needs than what occurs in the Eastern Sierra region in January and February.

Enjoy the hummingbirds that are frequenting your feeders today because the vast majority will be leaving during the next two months. As we write this in late August, the adult male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have already departed for their winter casas in western Mexico. There they will set up winter territories where they can continue to chase everything away from their food supply. They'll not return to our feeders until next April.

Ferruginous Hawk, photo by Tom Heindel

And who is this handsome bird?
Test your skills and then click the image for the answer!

By November, just a small fraction of the hummingbird numbers we've all been seeing during the summer will remain. In September, the last Broad-tailed and Calliope Hummingbirds will be recorded in the Eastern Sierra followed by the Rufous Hummingbird, which is rarely recorded to the end of October. These three species winter primarily in western Mexico.

The last remaining species, Anna's and Costa's Hummingbirds, will begin to move south but typically these two species may remain in winter in very small numbers. They were not recorded overwintering before 1995, which just happens to coincide with when a group of birders began keeping their hummingbird feeders up all winter near their homes for residual warmth that usually prevented freezing.

This is just one group of birds that summered in our area and then depart in late summer or fall and head south. They will be joined by swifts, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, thrushes, wood warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, buntings, and others.

Immature Bald Eagle, photo by Tom Heindel

Don't ruffle your feathers over me...
Test your skills and then click the image for the answer!

There will be many fewer species that move into our area from the north where they spent the summer. We haven't seen them since early this year and they include ducks, geese, swans, certain raptors, longspurs, sparrows, and others.

So how do we get ready for these "new" birds that are replacing those who have migrated south. A good approach is to learn which species are expected here in winter. Any good field guide will have maps that indicate species that bred in the north and winter to the south of their breeding grounds. The guides also indicate the different plumages many species exhibit over the year. They won't be wearing their spring finery for awhile so you need to study the basic or winter plumages. Very few individuals are capable of remembering ALL of the marks needed to clinch the identity of a bird with which we have limited or no recent experience. Doing your homework prepares you for the opportunities your fieldwork will present.

Lapland Longspur, Photo by Tom Heindel
Chestnut-collared Longspur, Photo by Tom Heindel

Do you know these birds? Can you tell these two birds apart?
Test your skills and then click the images for the answers!

Do you remember which longspurs have extensive white in the tail when you flush them from a grassy field? Or which longspur has a dry rattle call and a descending "TEW" note? Or which longspur calls "KITTLE, KITTLE?" Someone once said "Success is when preparation meets with opportunity." If we want to improve or maintain our field skills, being in the field as often as possible is the best approach. If we can't be in the field, time in the books is the next best thing. Are you going to be ready?

Harris's Sparrow, photo by Tom Heindel

Hello! Do I know you?
Test your skills and then click the image for the answer!

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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Bird of the Month

Board Member Santiago Escruceria will be sharing a photo of a different bird each month - and all can be seen at the Bishop Paiute Tribe's COSA - join us there on the second Saturday of each month to see these birds and more! See upcoming field trips here.


The Osprey is a large and long-winged bird. While flying, the wrist is usually held forward, giving the wings a crooked appearance. The head has white on top with a wide black stripe across the eyes. They are very vocal, emitting a series of short, rising and descending whistles. Seen at COSA reserve, June Lake, and nesting on tufa towers in Mono Lake. They are uncommon and scattered throughout the Eastern Sierra.

Bird of the Month for September: Osprey

Osprey - photo by Santiago Escruceria


  • The Sibley Guide To Birds. Second Edition, 2014. Written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley.
  • The Stokes Field Guide To The Birds Of North America. First Edition, 2010. Donald and Lillian Stokes.
  • Birds Of The Sierra Nevada, Their Natural History, Status, And Distribution. 2013. Edward C. Beedy and Edward R. Pandolfino; Illustrated by Keith Hansen

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Osprey Transmitters Deployed!

ESAS is helping sponsor Osprey research at Mono Lake (sponsoring the data costs for the 2 Osprey transmitters) Following is an update from this past summer from research scientist, Lisa Fields

Leroy getting his transmitter fitted, photo by Lisa Fields

Leroy with his new transmitter

Meet Leroy, our first adult male Mono Osprey with a transmitter!  I’m not generally one for giving our study animals actual names, but it’s a great tool to encourage the public to make a connection.  I haven’t totally abandoned my scientific leanings though, his name starts with an “L” to represent that he was captured at Lee Vining Tufa.  As with before, the cell phone reception isn’t great at Mono so the data dumps aren’t regular.  It took 3 days to get our first data from Leroy but it came just before my second field trip at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua so I was already able to give a group n accurate answer to the question, “where do they fish?”  Very exciting to have real data!  See the map below for those wonderful, long desired answers!  This map was from a data dump from June 22, so the data points represent 4 days of movement. 

Leroy has since provided more data - the first map of his movements is below, linked here is the latest map, and it’s pretty enlightening. The cluster of data points on the lake shore is his nest. The furthest west points are Tioga Lake, on the Sierra Crest at 9,600 feet and close to 9 miles away. The furthest south points are at June Lake, about 12.5 miles from the nest but at a similar elevation.

Map of Leroy's movements June 18-22, 2015

Leroy's travels - click for larger image

We deployed our second transmitter from the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua and California State Parks Foundation grants! It is on a juvenile male Osprey from the Negit Islets nest, and we named him Nigel. Thanks again to Eastern Sierra Audubon for contributing the funds for the data transmission fees. Of course it is the Mono Basin so we don’t have any actual data transmission yet from this transmitter. I also have no new data from Leroy since we haven't downloaded any data since August 19th, so we must be patient. Of course I’m horrible about that and just worry for no reason until I get new data.

When we get the website up and running I’d like to include the 2013 female data too.  So, she needs a name. She was captured at Old Marina, so any female name that starts with an “O” or “M” will be considered. Email me with your ideas!

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In Memoriam

Remembering James Wilson

One of our founding members and great friends passed away suddenly on July 15, 2015. Below are a few words about him. None could possibly be enough.

James at Mono Lake, photo by Ali Sheehy

James at Mono Lake. Photo by Ali Sheehy.

The Eastern Sierra has suffered an unimaginable loss with the passing of James Wilson. Like the Sierra he loved, James was a constant in our lives, shaping the community in which he lived, stewarding the landscape, working on behalf of the birds which captured his imagination and passion and offering the gift of friendship and counsel. More than twenty five years ago, he joined others in forming our Eastern Sierra Audubon chapter and he continually lent his leadership, energy and wisdom to the organization, serving as President, Director and other officer positions, Conservation Chair, the head of many projects and escorting hundreds of elementary school children on birding trips. In all of these roles, he was a star. During my time as chapter president I often had occasion to turn to James for advice and I always profited from his experience and insight. For anyone connected with the chapter he is a source of inspiration due to his passionate connection with the land and its critters and his empathy and concern for the people of the Eastern Sierra. James Wilson is forever woven into the fabric of this region and he will be deeply missed.

In 1972 we moved to the Owens Valley and very quickly heard of James Wilson, a Renaissance man and lover of all things wild and bringing people together to make it even better. Our paths began crossing at Eastside Sports and in the field. We were always awed with his intellect, compassion, and persuasive ideas. We moved overseas for a decade and returned, back into the fold with James at the helm. We grew closer and relied on each other for ideas and support of various environmental and conservation projects. The 25 years since our return has sped by like a bullet for all of us, and while some judge the accomplishments as highly successful, many of us feel that we've only just begun. James had so much he wanted to do.

So many have done so much for so long for the Eastern Sierra that to single out one person, or one couple, for recognition seemed to us to be undeserved. We were coerced by Barb Kelley and Mike Prather to accept such an award for our avian contributions. Then we were told that James would be making the presentation. We are so grateful that it was our decades-long friend whom we adored who would make this embarrassment bearable. We are equally grateful that Skandar Reid videotaped the entire afternoon and has edited out James's powerful and poetic presentation for all to enjoy (See video). While James gave us countless gifts, this speech and the long hugs that came afterwards gave us love that you usually only get from some family members! A beautiful giant has fallen but his echoes will reverberate as long as there is an Eastern Sierra.

It is hard to know how to convey the loss of someone so close to our hearts. It feels as if there has been "a great disturbance in the force" this week: one of our founding members and advocates for good in the Eastern Sierra, James Wilson, has died. We are terribly saddened by his loss. At the same time, we so very grateful for his long and valuable presence in our organization, our community, and in our lives. He was a wonderful human being who left a positive legacy in the world. He was loved and admired, yet always remained down-to-earth and humble. He made a difference.

In the video clip below, he is giving a heartfelt presentation to Tom and Jo Heindel for their many contributions. He says some beautiful things about life, friendship, and birds in this talk. Life is, indeed, short.

He will be missed deeply.

Video by Skandar Productions

James Kepler Wilson's passing is like a great, spreading, deep-rooted tree falling: it shakes you whether you are close or not, and leaves a huge gap in our community. That gap will fill because of the many seeds he planted. I knew him as fair and generous business owner; wise and eloquent Audubon president during my tenure as newsletter editor; and essential liaison between the conservation and climbing communities. I remember his soft voice and kind, level gaze creating an island of calm in my day whenever we chanced to meet. The Eastern Sierra without James Wilson will only resemble the place it has been with him because his legacy will live on.

James walking upriver in Costa Rica

James in Costa Rica, 2011. Photo by Chris Howard.

Thank you, James, for your friendship, leadership, and love for our community and environment.

May you forever dance with the Cranes and sing with the Trogons.

To read more about James, and for links to several other memorials, see our Remembering James Wilson page.

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Remembering John Finkbeiner

The man whom "Finkbeiner Woods" is named after is my father John Finkbeiner. Sadly he passed away April 7, 2015 at the age of 83. He started birdwatching at the age of 14. Birding was his life long passion!

Birding Memories with John Finkbeiner

When we moved to the Owens Valley, we remember John as our good birding buddy who was on the Audubon Board of Directors when we joined the board also. When we moved into town we moved near John and his wife Dee in Meadowcreek and started birding together. If one of us found a rare bird we would call each other up immediately and off we would go.

Hooded Warbler, photo by Debby Parker

Hooded Warbler in Finkbeiner Forest
Photo by Debby Parker

Since John had probably discovered and birded the rare Owens Valley habitat west of Brockman Lane before we moved to Bishop, we dubbed this wooded oasis “Finkbeiner Forest.” This wooded area is about 300 meters by 300 meters with crisscrossing watered ditches, native cottonwoods, willows and amazing birds. He knew the value of this rare habitat in the Owens Valley where there was great canopy-cover and brushy understory making a shady environment for nesting, wintering and migrating birds. Even Long-eared Owls have nested in this wood along with probable nesting Northern Harriers (which nest low in wet areas). White-tailed Kites have shown up here regularly, with immature birds, causing one to ask, where did they nest? Larry Nahm and Carolyn Gann were the first to discover nesting Western Bluebirds in a snag. The adjoining field is a good spot in winter for Mountain Bluebirds. Rarities found here were Hooded Warbler (photo), Bohemian Waxwing, probable nesting Summer Tanagers, nesting Western Bluebirds, Indigo Bunting, wintering Orange-crowned Warblers and Willow Flycatchers.

Warbler Watchers, photo by Debby Parker

Bird Fever:
ESAS members (John Finkbeiner [far left], Larry Nahm, Tom & Jo Heindel, Chris Howard, Jim Parker & Irene Yamashita is tucked in there too) watching a Tennessee warbler on Short Street
Photo by Debby Parker

At left is a photo with John seen far left while we’re all looking at a Tennessee warbler that Jim had found downtown near his office on his lunch break in December. John and Dee attended Heindel’s Bird Study Group evenings along with everyone in this photo. John loved the bird discussions like all of us where we learned to document what we found so that it could go down into the bird history record for present and future generations. These were wonderful once per month get-togethers, where we enjoyed the camaraderie of birding. John brought his life experience of his favorite passion and that was his love for birds, keeping a list of them and savoring the memory all of those exciting and special moments of discovery. Thank you John, it was so great to know and bird with you. We will miss you.

Bullish on Birding

John was a dear friend and will be missed. Our favorite story was one that John told us just after this incident occurred. He was out in the large meadow at the north end of Bishop near an area known to local birders as Meadow Creek (close to Finkbeiner Woods). A distant, large hawk was perched in a tree and John was very intently trying to identify the bird. As he studied it, he heard footsteps come up behind him and stop. Not wanting to take his eyes off the bird John said "Just a minute, and I'll let you take a look at it." Many joggers used the trails in the meadow and John assumed it was one who had stopped to see what he was observing. John started to explain some of the problems of identifying distant hawks and shortly after hearing shuffling feet realized the visitor was becoming impatient. John turned around to share the view in his scope and looked directly into the eyes of the largest bull he had ever seen! John excused himself, picked up his scope and made a hasty retreat. 

Finkbeiner Forest across the meadow at sunset

Finkbeiner Forest, across the meadow at sunset.
Photo by Maggie Riley

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In James' Garden

I bent down to pluck a weed
Gently nudging aside the watermelon vine
Thinking of the hand that planted the seed
Seeing the smile that presented to friends
Succulent melons at Midsummer feasts.

Might there be his footprint here
To treasure among the vines and interlopers?
That footprint I so often saw
On days and miles of mountain meanders
As I was always behind you.
So many of us
Behind you on so many things.

How many times DID
Your foot fall upon a wild footless place?
Crashing through chigger infested rain forest
In search of Three-wattled Bellbirds.
Climbing as Dan said, "Some obscure pinnacle."
Thrashing through "high hat willows," Swiss army knife poised.
Wading thigh high Secret Creeks
Pygmy Kingfishers laughing overhead.
Walking impassioned and measured the mire of meetings
Finding a path through opposing minds.
Passing through many souls leaving only good effects.

What wild creature continues to live because of your care?
What bird continues to fly having been seen by your eye?
Oh, my kingdom for a map of your footprints
Lit with your delight as if you soaked up
The energy of the planet through your feet
Up through your veins to inspire your heart!
And your marvelous mind, that consciousness
That cared and inspired actions that made a difference.
You had the uncanny ability
To draw others to unwonted connections
With broader effect than acting alone.
If only we could see the footprints you
Left on minds and hearts.

My thoughts have wound and weeded me through the
Melons and on to the squash and the beans.
No wonder the lovely garden has weeds -
You were busy tending the planet whole.

James Wilson

James Wilson was one of the original supporters of the Bird and Butterfly Pollinator Plot in the Bishop Community Garden. He was instrumental in approving Audubon funds to help get this project started. Friends of the Eastern Sierra Gardens will be installing signs at the October 13 Bishop Chamber of Commerce mixer that will be held in the garden, and the Bird and Butterfly Garden will be dedicated to James Kepler Wilson.

We wish to thank Rosie Howard for her hard work on this project and also the board members of Eastern Sierra Audubon.

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Report: Owens Lake - Michael Prather

Owens Lake at Dawn, Photo by Mike Prather

Owens Lake at Dawn, Photo by Mike Prather

World Shorebirds Day - I surveyed the northern parts of Owens Lake this morning with 3,200 individual birds of 25 species. Noteables - 1 Osprey, 1576 Northern Shovelers, 709 Red-necked Phalaropes, 603 Least Sandpipers. There were thirteen species of shorebirds. This data was submitted to eBird and then onto the World Shorebirds Day site which adds Owens Lake to the worldwide snapshot of shorebirds on this date.

The Owens Lake Fall Big Day 2015 Report is not complete yet - watch for it in future newsletters.

In other updates, Owens Lake's nomination to be a part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) is still in the works. It appears to meet the criteria for approval due the large numbers of American Avocets, Least Sandpipers and Snowy Plovers. The three designations in WHSRN are Hemispheric, International and Regional. Owens Lake easily qualifies as an International site. The process of nomination and approval is still ongoing, and is a project in partnership with LADWP, State Lands and Audubon-California. We give a loud shout out to our members and friends who have worked (played really) on behalf of the birds at Owens Lake for so many years. It’s paying off! Visit the WHSRN website to learn more about this excellent program at www.whsrn.org.

Many Habitats for birds at Owens Lake, Photo by Mike Prather

Many Habitats for birds at Owens Lake, Photo by Mike Prather

2016 Owens Lake Bird Festival - Save the Date! April 22-24, 2016

We are already at work preparing for next year's festival! There will be many new additions as well as making the event two days instead of one. Again there will be a Friday evening meet-and-greet reception at the Lone Pine Film History Museum followed by two days of field trips and more on Saturday and Sunday. We have added "crack of dawn" trips, trips away from the lake, talks on migration and shorebirds, history of Owens Lake, photography trips, geology and more! So everyone mark your calendars. See you there.

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Taking Care of Business

Volunteer Service Announcement - we could really use your help

Please contact Ann Hoffmann at hoffmann@qnet.com or any ESAS board member for information about these opportunities to help,

November 3, 2015, 6 p.m., is our next scheduled Board Meeting.
Contact Ann Hoffmann for the location.

  1. Birds in the Classroom volunteers (Contact Hillary Behr)
  2. Board Member at Large
  3. Constant Contact Email Coordinator
  4. Field Trip Coordinator
  5. Field Trip LEADERS - if you have ideas for a field trip, let us know!
  6. Inyo/Mono County High School Scholarship Coordinator (Contact Roberta Lagomarsini)
  7. Newsletter Editor (Contact Maggie Riley or Vickie Taton)
  8. Webmaster (Contact Maggie Riley)
  9. Publicity Coordinator (Contact Jenny Richardson or Roberta Lagomarsini)
  10. T-Shirt Sales Coordinator (Contact Roberta Lagomarsini)
  11. Yard Sale Coordinator (Contact Roberta Lagomarsini)
  12. Volunteer Coordinator
  13. President... really we just need a person who is a good cat herder :)

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Welcome New and Rejoining Members!

Thank you to the members who recently joined or renewed their membership!

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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Message from the Editor


Our next newsletter deadline will be October 15th for the November-December 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 2015

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Final Shot

Sandhill Crane and chick

Sandhill Crane and chick - photo from Wikimedia Commons

Early August Birding in Antelope Valley: "Last Wednesday we had wonderful sightings of Orioles, Vireos and Pewees nesting at Mountain Gate Park.  We also sighted the pair of Sandhill Cranes on Topaz Lane.  We thought they had gone after the late May snowstorm but it seems that they are back or have been there all along but elusive.  We are hoping that they are nesting and that we will see young ones soon.  Above is a picture of what the young Sandhills look like.  We haven't seen any but we're hoping to. We're also waiting to see Long Billed Curlew young.  Please let me know if you do see them so I can let others know." ~ Ele Espinosa

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