2016-05-08 Sunday In The Eastern Sierras

Green-Tailed Towhee - Pipilo chlorurus

I had a big day taking pictures this day. It began when I reached Mono Lake’s western edge. I saw a flycatcher that flew off before I got my camera ready, but I noticed Cassin’s Finches feeding on a towering elm tree near to the parking area. Lots of finches were in this tree. As I collected images, I discovered that many of the finches were Pine Siskins. All the finches were devouring the flowers on this tree. They were clinging to twigs and attacking from all angles. Upside-down feeding penduline style was often employed. I believe the images captured of these birds are some of the best I’ve collected for these species.

I also saw warblers moving through the sage near the ground that foraged while steadily moving northward in their migration. There were MacGillivray’s, Wilson’s, Yellow-Rumped and Orange-Crowned moving in this way. Unfortunately their movements and my attention on the finches did not allow me to capture their images at this place.

When I finished playing with the finches, I drove 2.5 miles south to Route 120 or the Tioga Pass Road. All the passes over the mountains to Yosemite are closed at this time of year due to snow pack, but I thought it would be interesting to drive the four miles that were open and enjoy the scenery. I found a fresh water dispensary that the town of Lee Vining provided from the town’s water collection source, and topped off my water supply. Being a fast moving stream (Lee Vining Creek), I had to look for dippers, but not were found.

My next mini-tour took me out to the gravel “Test Station Road” leading to South Tufa, a popular stop for birders and sightseers. Rush Creek, crosses this road, and is one of the main tributaries preventing Mono Lake from going dry. I’ve found dippers there in the past, but not this day. Prior to reaching the creek I heard Sage Thrashers singing. When I stopped, I discovered an Orange-Crowned Warbler, a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Sagebrush Sparrows and Brewer’s Sparrows. Several of these birds posed for me.

Mono Mills is but 5.5 miles from South Tufa and I’d found Williamson’s Sapsuckers there in the past. I drove there but found few birds, and those were too far away for the camera. As it was raining hard, I hunkered down and rested for awhile.

My next nearby destination was the north shore of June Lake, where I’ve had good luck with birds in the past. There I found a few cooperative subjects. In particular, a Green-Tailed Towhee posed nicely for me. My friend Carmen has a house (cabin?) at June Lakes, but she and her family weren’t planning to be there for another day. I was getting itchy feet so I opted to move south 29 miles to the hot springs at Benton Crossing (Crowley Lake) to see if the breeding Wilson’s Phalaropes had arrived. They had not, though I heard Long-Billed Curlews in the distance while there. I found a suitable place to pull over for the night.  There I worked on the images from this rather productive day. This day yielded many images. I think some are respectable. This series wraps up my presentations from this trip. I hope you will enjoy them.

Images below:

Click map markers to reveal further information