Date: May 29, 2016
Place: Mono Lake Park, Lee Vining, California
Coordinates: 38.015712, -119.150320
Length: 1/2 mile in and out
Mono Lake is a regular stopping site for us Quails whenever we make it east of Yosemite. Last May we were visiting the area of Bridgeport with friends and after visiting Bodie State Historic Park we decided to drive a bit more south and see Mono Lake too.
We were coming down on Hwy 395 from the north. Just before descending to the Mono Basin we stopped at a pull out vista point to get a sweeping view of the valley below.
Southeast of Mono Lake we could see another snowy mountain range - the White Mountains that are home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Whenever we visit Mono Lake we go to the south Tufa area, which is the more beautiful side of the lake. This time, however, we decided to take a look at the north side.
Mono Lake Park is a small Lee Vining City Park. There is a community center there, and a lawn with a nice picnic area.
And there is a also a boardwalk that leads south to Mono Lake. So after spending some leisure time on the lawn we took to the boardwalk, ignoring the pleas of the children who wished to remain on the lawn.
The trail at Mono Lake Park is very short - only about 1/2 a mile long in one direction. The raised boardwalk keeps the fragile terrain and its vegetation safe from people's harm.
After only a few steps the trail broke out of the bush wall and into an open plain dotted with shrubs. A rabbit hopped between them but vanished quickly out of sight.
The eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada come Yosemite loomed to our right. From this angle they looked soft and gentle, almost like the western Sierra foothills, only bare of woods.
While spring was well on its way all about Bridgeport and Bodie, there was not much to see near Mono Lake in terms of wildflowers. The only bloom I've seen there were a few iris flowers scattered along the boardwalk.
|Rocky Mountain Iris, Iris missouriensis|
Only decades ago these tufa formations were submerged in water. It was when the city of Los Angeles begun diverting the Eastern Sierra rivers that the lake's level dropped, the water became more saline, and the formations were exposed.
|Tufa at Mono Lake Park, Lee Vining|
On one of the tufa pillars (picture above) I could see a tiny black dot. With his big zoom lens, Pappa Quail gave this dot a shape - a red-winged blackbird.
(But we could tell it from afar by its distinctive call).
One again, the use of good magnification showed that bird;s identity - an osprey. There are no fish in Mono Lake, so clearly the osprey forage in other water bodies in the area. The Mono Lake tufa, however, is a perfectly safe place for roosting and nesting. We've seen the osprey there pretty much in every visit, so it wasn't a surprise.
As if answering our thoughts, the osprey soon spread its wings and flew off, making a nice circle over us before vanishing.
|Lakeshore at Mono Lake Park, Lee Vining|
Next time we will visit Mono Lake we'll probably return to the South Tufa area, but it was nice to view the lake from a different angle for a change :-)