Owens Lake Big Days
2013 Owens Lake Fall Big Day - Tuesday, August 20th
Our Fall Big Day will be on 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.
Dress in layers. August will be hot, but the morning can be cool on the lake. Bring water, snacks, lunch, hat, sunscreen, dark glasses. Also bring - camera, bird book, pencils/pens, binocs and a scope if you have one.
Here are two links that might be helpful:
- Good local weather site: http://www.easternsierraforecast.com/index.html
- Owens Lake Dust Cam: http://www.gbuapcd.org/dustcam.htm
2013 Owens Lake Spring Big Day Report
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.
2012 Owens Lake Spring Big Day Report
On April 25th twenty birders (citizen scientists) joined five LADWP staff to census all of the birds at Owens Lake. The Owens Lake Spring Big Day is an annual cooperative project conducted by Eastern Sierra Audubon and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It gathers data on the number of species and individuals that use Owens Lake each spring for nesting and foraging during migration. A somewhat breezy, but mild day allowed complete coverage of the 40 square mile dust control project and the wetlands around the shoreline of the lake.
2012 was our highest number of individuals counted yet (74,511) with 81 species. Some of the birds shared by surveyors were a Sanderling, 20+ Franklin’s Gulls. Bonaparte Gulls, Peregrine Falcon, thousands of California Gulls, American Avocets and ‘peeps’ (our smaller sandpipers), dozens of Snowy Plovers and Semi-palmated Plovers and 10 American White Pelicans. You may view or download the complete list of birds from 2012 and the previous years (pdf). These numbers demonstrate the enormous return of birds to Owens Lake as a result of the Los Angeles Dust Control Project.
Areas surveyed included all Dust Control Cells, Bartlett/Carroll Creek, Sulfate Well, Cartago Wildlife Area, Cottonwood Marsh, and Dirty Socks. A total of 74,511 birds and 81 species were recorded, including over 47,000 shorebirds of 21 species. The 2012 Big Day count of shorebirds is the highest count of shorebirds recorded at Owens Lake to date since regular lake-wide surveys of the entire dust control project area were first started in 2007.
Data from the Spring Big Day is used in the management of the birds and their habitat at Owens Lake. The Draft Owens Lake Master Plan calls for the continued protection and even enhancement of wildlife habitat and wetlands. Owens Lake will once again support migrating and nesting birds and it will become an important ecotourism attraction that will help our local economy. The Owens Lake Fall Big Day is August 21st. Contact Mike Prather (email@example.com) to sign up.
2011 Owens Lake Spring Big Day Census: 58,589 total birds
The fourth annual Owens Lake Spring Big Day was held on April 19, 2011, under perfect spring-like weather conditions. This year’s event was organized by Mike Prather, Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, and Debbie House, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Watershed Resources Specialist. The twenty seven participants included birders from San Diego to Berkeley, as well as locals from Lone Pine to Mammoth Lakes, and five LADWP staff biologists.
The entire 40 square miles of the Owens Lake Dust Control Project and several shoreline spring sites were surveyed. A total of 58,589 birds and 73 species were recorded. Highlights of the count include 18,978 Calidris sandpipers including Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper and Dunlin, 8,200 American Avocet, 153 Greater Yellowlegs, 95 Black bellied Plover, and 58 Willet. Of the over 4,900 waterfowl recorded, Gadwall and Ruddy Duck predominated, while three Blue-winged Teal and one Red breasted Merganser were among the “less frequently encountered” waterfowl species recorded for the day. It was a five gull day at Owens Lake, with California Gulls virtually everywhere (23,248 of them tallied), and five Franklin’s Gulls, a dozen Bonaparte’s Gulls, a few-dozen Ring-billed and a couple Herring Gulls thrown into the mix.
LADWP and the Eastern Sierra Audubon Society would like to thank all who participated. The information from lake-wide Big Day counts is being incorporated into LADWP’s growing database of wildlife use of the Owens Lake Dust Control Project, and will be used to help guide management decisions regarding maintaining or improving wildlife habitat, while implementing water conservation efforts and continuing to meet dust control requirements.
Past years' count data compared
Click here for a pdf of count results for the Spring Big Day at Owens Lake from 2008 through 2013. 2013 Data has been added! Also available as a spreadsheet on request.
Coordinator: Mike Prather 760-876-5807 firstname.lastname@example.org, Drawer D Lone Pine,CA 93545