Posted by: Sandy Steinman | July 31, 2011

Mono Basin Wildflower Report 7/31/11

Flowers, Some Birds And A Few Butterflies at Mono Basin

Very early this morning there was a banging that sounded like it was on the roof.  We heard it again later in the afternoon and with a lot of bad photos were able to clearly identify it as a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers in a tree right next to our room.

Our destination for today was east Mono Basin, which is on highway 120 east of 395.  We hadn’t gotten there yesterday afternoon due to the storm and rain was predicted again today.  One of the first plants you will see is Prickly Poppy. When going by the open desolate pumice area you can find Blazing Star and Naked Buckwheat. The destination plant was Foul Odor Monkeyflower, which Golden Gate Audubon has seen Friday.  Although it wasn’t as plentiful and widespread as two years ago, there were a number of large impressive displays along with many Mono Lake Lupine and tiny Spurry Buckwheat. The best flowers were between Mono Mill and Sagehen Summit. Also blooming were Pale Agoseris, Scale Bud, a Senicio, and Rabbit Brush. We also saw West Coast Lady and Arrowhead Blue Butterflies.

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Then to Parker Bench.  You go 1.5 miles west on 158 from 395 (five miles south of Lee Vining) towards Grant Lake.  Follow the dirt road on the right for three miles to Parker Lake Trailhead.  We didn’t make it all the way to the trailhead as it was starting to rain and thunder and to be sure we could get back to the paved road in case today’s storm was like yesterday.  We didn’t see lots of flowers but did see a number of species including Sulphur Buckwheat, alien Mullein, Prickly Poppy,  Checker Mallow, Rose, Lupine, Angelica, a tall tiny leaved buckwheat, Angelica, Yarrow, Richardson’s Geranium, Senecio, a sticky Catchfly, Sulphur Buckwheat, Stephanomeria, Yellow Monkeyflower and Meadow Arnica.  The best flower spots were near a creek.  The rain picked up at this point.

Next we went to the South Mono Tufa area as the rain let up.  The green and gray colors of the landscape looked bright in the rain. California Gulls, Wilson’s Phalaropes and Violet Green Swallows were all present in large numbers.  We also stopped by Panum Crater but ditched the walk as heavy downpour ensued.  We called it a day at least for now.

We went to “famous” Mobil Mart/Whoa Nellie Deli and not only had delicious Tacos but listened to an excellent band called “Good Medicine”, who played both covers from the 60’s and 70”s as well as original material.  Next we walked over to the Mono Lake Visitors Center for a peaceful sunset and to the “Latte Da Coffee” for lattes (of course) and called it a night.


  1. Excellent chronicle, Sandy. You had some great conditions with those beautiful clouds. Love the lupine and don’t think I’ve seen it before. Definitely inspires the wanderlust!


    • Thanks John. I believe the Lupine is endemic to the Mono Basin. Until today there were clouds (and often rain) every day.


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