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Sunday, September 26, 2010

All the Way Home

Double drat the end of another mini-break. Oh well! For our last hurrah, we ran one last run after Pinyon Jays - a bust. Then before we left, we visited the Mono Lake Visitor Center, which is under reconstruction.

Click here, and look carefully to see the photographer, i.e., 'moi'

The center had a very pretty mobile of Wilson's Phalaropes that I was taken with.

Phalarope Mobile

There was also a nice exhibit on the peculiarities of the saline Mono Lake, and a display giving an idea on how the Paiutes of Mono Lake once lived before settlers moved in and blew the party.

Summer homes for the Paiutes were temporary shelters

Mono Lake Paiute Indian Basketry

The area I've seen around Mono Lake is beautiful, with loads of wildlife in the nearby Aspen groves, pine forests, and the beauty of majestic looking extinct volcanos. I think it must have been a paradise for the Paiutes.

We didn't begin to scale the Tioga Pass until nearly 11 AM. I always get a thrill from entering Yosemite National Park, in particular it's high alpine meadows that Tioga Pass meanders through.

Entering Yosemite via Tioga Pass

Granite slopes line the eastern most stretches along Tioga Pass

Don enjoying a sky show of Red-tail vs. Golden Eagle

We didn't have too much time to spare, needing to make it back to Sacramento, but we did stop in a couple of spots. Don went searching while I lazily sat back and enjoyed the scenery. The best bird we saw in the area were Williamson's Sapsuckers.

Toulomne Meadow

How is this for idyllic?

Half Dome looms in the distance

Angelwing Zephyr poising on my sideview mirror
may have been a bit larger than it appeared

Astonishingly enough, after exiting Yosemite at one of the northern-most gateways, and then driving for hours along Highway 49, passing the old gold country towns of Angel's Camp and San Andreas, we didn't have enough birding under our belts. So after making nearly all the way back to my home, we stopped at twilight to bird along Meiss Road - the country lanes where I love to go hunting for wildflowers in the spring. We looked for Common Nighthawks but instead found several Great Horned Owls. We watched one such owl catch a nice fat meadow vole for its dinner. I enjoyed watching at least a dozen voles racing around under a shrub. It was too dark to photograph the little clowns, but some time this fall I hope to return there with my night vision camcorder; another mini-break for another time.

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