Mono Lake County Park: first stop today for birding. The highlights are seeing the hundreds (thousands?) of Wilson’s Phalaropes flying in sync and watching individual birds swim in circles to feed, Killdeer with young and a distant Osprey nest (I originally thought it was a Bald Eagle but photos at the visitor’s center straightened me out). Other birds seen or heard were Mourning Dove, Violet-green Swallows, Raven, Song Sparrow, California Gulls, Ruddy Duck, Wren (I thought it was a Marsh Wren but am not confident as they are considered rare summer), Canada Goose, Mallard, American Goldfinch and American Robin. Flowers seen included Paintbrush, Yellow Monkeyflower, White Rein Orchid and a small Willow Herb. Also seen were Lorquin’s Admiral butterfly, Jack Rabbit and Ground Squirrels.
Mono Lake Visitor’s Center: there are active Cliff Swallow nests attached to the building. You can watch them come and go.
Highway 120 (east of 395) when you get through the Jeffrey Pine Forest the area opens up and there are good displays of the small Foul Odor Monkey Flower (one good spot is near the cattle crossing sign). You will also find Mono Lake Lupine and very tiny Spurry Buckwheat. You also will Pumice Hulsea (Hulsea vestita ssp. vestita), Rabbitbrush, Prickly Phlox and miniscule Popcorn. If you continue on a little way you will find a wet area that has good displays of another Lupine along. You will also find Yellow Monkeyflower, a Groundsel (Senecio sp.) and some small blue butterflies.
Navy Beach is down a gravel road and east of the South Mono Tufa area. There are mainly California Gulls. Also there were good looks at a Northern Harrier, Spotted Sandpipers and Song Sparrow. There were a few other birds that it wasn’t possible to ID.