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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Having Mono - My Way


Family of 3 in the Aspen
On arriving at the primitive,  Lundy Campground near Mono Lake, I was thrilled. We were lucky enough to find the v. same campsite we had 2 years ago. The very same close-to-the-potty-building campsite. Hurrah!  While Don set up our tents - I - ahem - supervised while I watched a pretty little Mule Deer doe, grazing amid a grove thick with Aspens. Then something startling happened - I could see two something-or-the-others bobbing up and down in the distance at the edge of the Aspen grove! Whatever they were, they were headed straight at me. What the... I could see the things bobbing heads as they raced at me... Wolf? Mountain Lions? Gorillas? Then I saw, nope - two deer. All the thinking took seconds because the deer raced towards me like greyhounds. I realized they weren't racing for ME, they were racing to MOM.

Even more difficult to spot family of 3
The pair of gigantic fawns leapt over shrub and low hanging limbs to their mother like one of those soppy movies where long lost children are reunited with their family at a 19th century railway station. You know - after they'd been kidnapped by the Nazis. After Spielberg made you give up all hope the movie was going to end with a happy reunion. The fawns reached their mother, dropped to their knees and took to nursing with such vigor, their mother's rear end was higher up than her head. Wow... I mean, those were some hungry fawns.

Well! Let's leave the little family some privacy... when Don got the tents up - damn, but I did a great job supervising - we headed over to the Mono Lake county park.

The county park is fantastic for birding, particularly, I believe, if you need woodpeckers and sapsuckers. On this trip I spotted a lovely Red-breasted Sapsucker, and the odd Hairy and Down Woodpeckers, but Don spotted the coup d'gras - a Lewis Woodpecker. He logged into eBird, to report our birdie findings and then we headed to Lee Vining for gas & a few supplies.

Beautiful Downtown Lee Vining - naw, it is beautiful, though I admit calling it a 'downtown' is a bit sarcastic
The rest of the evening we spent driving down, the mysteriously named, Cemetary Road by the county park, looking for Nighthawks - which rudely enough were a no-show - and Poorwills. Poorwills are fascinating cousins of the Nighthawks. The birds have eesnie bills with disproportionately  HUMONGOUS mouths with which they suck down night insects. As Don drove down the moonlit road, I was once again stunned that he find any Poorwills at all. How does one spot a cryptically feathered bit of bird on a road? Don said he looks for 'rocks' at the far edge of the headlight glow in front of the car, and magically the rocks show pumpkin orange eyeshine. Voila! A Poorwill. Right...

A Mono Lake Poorwill showing eye shine. This beautiful & 'how-the-heck-did-he-take-it' photo is by
The photo above isn't mine, I nicked it off the web by someone who managed to snap a pic of one of the robin sized birds. How the heck one photographs such a small, flighty, evasive bird after dark, is beyond me - great job Mr. Ake (I am like so very envious...).

Our 'Poorwilling' adventure netted two sightings. And when we headed back to the Lundy campground, we decided tomorrow we will start our day with at Bodie State Park, in search of a less difficult to find bird - the Greater Sage Grouse.

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